Article image

Menacing Joro spiders are now moving their invasion into US cities

In the past decade, Joro spiders, an orb-weaving species native to East Asia, has made a conspicuous invasion across Georgia and the Southeastern United States.

Since its first sighting in the U.S. around 2013, this invasive species has not only adapted but thrived, raising questions about its success in urban environments.

Recent research from the University of Georgia sheds light on this phenomenon, revealing the spider’s remarkable resilience and ability to tolerate urban stressors.

City vibes: How Joro spiders deal with urban areas

The study focused on the Joro spider’s surprising tolerance for vibrations and noise, common elements in urban landscapes that typically stress many animals.

Researchers found that despite living near busy roads, Joro spiders maintain their health and body mass, comparable to their counterparts in quieter areas.

This adaptability suggests that the Joro spider can compensate for the challenges of a human-dominated environment.

Andy Davis, a research scientist at UGA’s Odum School of Ecology and the corresponding author of the study, emphasized the importance of vibrations for spiders, a key sensory input for detecting prey.

“But these Joro webs are everywhere in the fall, including right next to busy roads, and the spiders seem to be able to make a living there. For some reason, these spiders seem urban tolerant,” Davis explained.

Surviving and thriving in the fast lane

Joro spiders are frequently found in places where native Georgia spiders are absent, constructing their distinctive golden webs in high-traffic areas such as between power lines, atop stoplights, and over gas station pumps.

This prompted Davis and his team to investigate their behavior near roadsides using a tuning fork to simulate prey vibrations.

The findings showed that Joro spiders attacked simulated prey 59% of the time, with a slight decrease in attack frequency near busier roads compared to quieter areas. However, this did not affect their overall health or body mass.

Alexa Schultz, a third-year ecology student at UGA and co-author of the study, noted, “It looks like Joro spiders are not going to shy away from building a web under a stoplight or an area where you wouldn’t imagine a spider to be. I don’t know how happy people are going to be about it, but I think the spiders are here to stay.”

Joro spiders in concrete jungles

The Joro spider’s native habitat in Japan shares a similar climate and latitude with the U.S., suggesting a predisposition for adaptation.

Previous research from Davis’ lab highlighted the spider’s high metabolism, heart rate, and cold tolerance as factors contributing to its rapid population growth in the U.S. The current study adds urban vibration and sound tolerance to the list of traits facilitating the Joro spider’s expansion.

Despite their proliferation and the unease they may cause, researchers assure that the spiders are relatively timid and pose no significant threat.

In summary, the Joro spider’s successful colonization of urban environments underscores a remarkable example of nature’s adaptability in the face of human expansion.

Through resilience and an uncanny ability to tolerate urban stressors like noise and vibrations, these spiders not only survive but thrive, creating new ecosystems within our bustling cities.

This alarming research from the University of Georgia illuminates the unexpected ways in which wildlife can adapt to urban landscapes, challenging us to reconsider our perceptions of nature in the city.

As we move forward, embracing the presence of the Joro spider and other adaptable species offers a unique opportunity to foster biodiversity and balance within our urban ecosystems, highlighting the importance of coexistence in an ever-changing world.

More about Joro spiders in cities

As discussed above, the Joro spider is a beautiful orb-weaver from East Asia that is known for its vivid colors and impressive web-spinning skills.

This species made its first appearance in the United States around 2013 in the state of Georgia. Since then, it has rapidly expanded its territory across the Southeastern U.S., captivating scientists and citizens alike with its resilience and adaptability.

Physical characteristics

Characterized by a bright yellow and blue body, with distinctive red markings, the Joro spider is not only a marvel of nature’s artistry but also an engineering genius.

Females, significantly larger than males, can weave webs that span up to three feet in diameter. These webs are not only traps for prey but also serve as a testament to the spider’s intricate architectural abilities.

Adaptation and habitat

The Joro spider’s successful establishment in the U.S. is a fascinating study of ecological adaptation. Thriving in both rural and urban areas, Joro spiders demonstrate a remarkable tolerance for varied climates and environments.

Originally hailing from a climate similar to the U.S. Southeast, they’ve shown an impressive ability to withstand the region’s temperature fluctuations and even brief freezes.

Diet and predation

As predators, Joro spiders play a crucial role in controlling insect populations. They primarily feed on small insects caught in their resilient webs, which are known for their strength and durability.

The spiders’ predation habits contribute to the ecological balance by regulating pest populations, showcasing their integral role in their new ecosystems.

Reproduction and growth

The reproductive cycle of the Joro spider is another area of interest for researchers. In late summer to early fall, females lay egg sacs that can contain hundreds of eggs, ensuring the continued expansion of their population.

The rapid growth of their numbers in the U.S. underscores the spider’s robust adaptability and the absence of natural predators in their new environment.

Cultural and ecological impact

In their native Japan, Joro spiders are woven into the cultural fabric, often celebrated for their diligent web-weaving.

In the U.S., while they have stirred some concern due to their menacing size and invasive status, researchers emphasize their potential benefits, particularly in pest control.

The Joro spider’s presence challenges us to consider the delicate balance between native and non-native species, and the potential for symbiotic relationships within ecosystems.

Symbol of adaptation and coexistence

The history and details of the Joro spider encapsulate a remarkable journey of migration, adaptation, and coexistence.

As we learn more about these colorful arachnids, their story offers valuable lessons on resilience, ecological balance, and the interconnectivity of global ecosystems.

The Joro spider’s successful integration into the Southeastern U.S. landscape, and now into the heart of U.S. cities, serves as a reminder of nature’s endless capacity for adaptation and the intricate tapestry of life that supports our world.

The full study was published in the journal Arthropoda.


Like what you read? Subscribe to our newsletter for engaging articles, exclusive content, and the latest updates.


Check us out on EarthSnap, a free app brought to you by Eric Ralls and


News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day