Flying Spiders Are Headed to New York: Here’s What Families Need to Know

Flying spiders new york
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Flying Spiders Are Headed to New York: Here’s What Families Need to Know

Another humid New York summer is approaching, which means we can expect the usual summer critters: mosquitos, spotted lanternflies, cicadas, etc. Well, it’s time to add a new critter to the list; Joro spiders – which will soon be flying into New York. You read that right; these are FLYING SPIDERS.  

While the news of these aerial arachnids is something we New Yorkers aren’t thrilled about (understatement of the year), we have just enough time to prepare before they make their way to our area. Here’s everything you need to know about Joro spiders, along with our must-read tip for families on handling any fears that may arise for your little ones.

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This is not a flying spider, but the thought of a flying one can feel scary for kids, thankfully the Joro Spider is timid
This is not a flying spider, but the thought of a flying one can be scary for kids. Thankfully, the Joro Spider is timid.

About Joro Spiders

Let’s delve into the world of Joro spiders, also known as Trichonephila Clavata. These large yellow and blue-black spiders are not your typical New York arachnids. In fact, they stand out even in the United States due to their size, legs spanning 4 inches, and vibrant yellow colors that are hard to miss. The unique combination of their size and ability to ‘fly’ makes them a fascinating species that may come off as intimidating but may not be as fearsome as they seem.

Let’s back up a bit and answer a question many may ask: can these spiders really fly? Short answer: yes, but differently from the way you might be thinking. More specifically, young Joro spiders travel by “ballooning.” Ballooning is a tactic that some young spiders use, including young Joro spiders, to travel. They spin their silk thread and are able to catch an air current and fly. Think Spider-Man moving through the Spider-Verse or Queens. And this is very specific to young Joro spiders. So, while yes they can fly, they don’t do it for the entirety of their life span, which is about a year. When Joro spiders are fully grown and matured, they get too heavy to fly or catch an air current, so seeing a giant Joro spider fly through New York this summer is highly unlikely.

Are Joro Spiders Dangerous?

Joro spiders have yet to pose any threat to humans or pets. While they do carry venom, they often only use it on their prey. In fact, a significant reason why Joro spiders have successfully spread in the United States is that they’re pretty timid. According to a study released in 2023, Startle Responses of Jorō Spiders, Joro spiders “may be the shyest spiders ever to be documented,” said Andrew Davis, lead author of the study and research scientist in UGA’s Odum School of Ecology.

The study observed the response times of arachnid species and focused on the response times of Joro spiders; it turns out that while most of the spider species they observed were pretty quick to respond by freezing and moving on after about a minute, Joro spiders would freeze and stay frozen for as long as an hour before moving on and continuing what they were doing.

This means if you come in contact with one of these spiders, chances are they are more afraid of you than you are of them. They will likely completely freeze and give you enough time to get as far away as you need to.

While these flying spiders do carry venom, most scientists studying this species have found that their bite is about as harmful as a bee sting to us. While it’s unlikely that a Joro spider will bite you, like any other animal, if provoked, they can bite. But research has found that it may cause an allergic reaction at most. We suggest you speak to your doctor about the proper healthcare steps to handle a bite.

Joro spiders are startling but, luckily, not harmful. Unfortunately, for those who may not be fans of spiders in general, they are here to stay. They’ve been settled in Georgia for a few years now, and because they are an invasive species, they have successfully begun spreading throughout various locations in the United States. According to Davis, we should expect to begin seeing them in New York soon.

How Did Joro Spiders Get to New York?

The flying spiders were first spotted in Hoschton, Georgia back in 2013 and are believed to have made their way to the U.S. from Asia in a shipping container. Since then, they have settled in Georgia and are now being spotted in other states. 

Our Tip For Families

Our biggest tip for families is simply to stay informed. It’s important to remember that ‘invasive’ and ‘aggressive’ are not synonymous, as Amitesh Anerao, co-author of the startle response study and an undergraduate researcher at the University of Georgia, points out. Their research shows that Joro spiders are shy and relatively harmless.

While these spiders can grow large and may not be what we’re used to, they mean no harm and will likely freeze if you come in contact with one. We don’t suggest approaching a Joro spider, but we want to reassure our readers that there is nothing to fear.

Just like the spotted lantern flies that made their way to New York in 2020 and have since become frequent summer visitors, Joro spiders are heading to New York and will be here to stay. 

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