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Massive Joro spiders continue to invade the US, but they’re not as scary as they look

Published May 28th, 2023 10:34AM EDT
Joro spider is spreading legs on web
Image: Jakub / Adobe

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Looks can be deceiving. That’s a line that has been uttered here and there for decades, maybe even hundreds of years. However, it seems that line has never been truer than when you look at the Joro spider, which are giant yellow and blue-black spiders that have been spreading across the southern U.S. for the past several years.

Despite their massive size, a new study from the University of Georgia says that these terrifying, large spiders are actually “gentle giants” and that they’re rather timid when it comes to dealing with stress. The new study was conducted by researchers who tested the responses of more than 450 spiders to see how they would react to stressful encounters.

The results of that research show that most spiders would return to their normal activities after less than a minute. However, the Joro spider remained motionless, frozen almost, for more than an hour after the stressor was introduced.

Joro spider with green background in JapanImage source: LemonMyrtle / Adobe

This discovery is intriguing because, by all rights, the terrifying appearance of this spider makes it seem as if it would attack anything that came within its range. However, we’ve always known that this particular type of spider is unlikely to bite unless cornered, and even then, its fangs are usually not large enough to break human skin.

The researchers say they tested more than 30 garden spiders, as well as marbled orb weavers and banded garden spiders, and used data from previously published and peer-reviewed papers to see how other spiders reacted to stress. The researchers say that the only other species that exhibited any kind of motionless freezing was the golden silk spider, which is from the game genus of the Joro spider.

The stressor in this particular instance was two puffs of air from a turkey baster, which was released directly on the spiders, according to SciTechDaily’s report on the study. Finding this particular survival trait on the Joro spider, which looks to be more terrifying than it is, is intriguing, though, and will no doubt only drive the interest that scientists have in these particular creatures.

Previously scientists have tried to learn more about spiders, including going so far as to translate spider webs into mesmerizing music. You can read the latest study on the Joro spiders in the journal Arthropoda. The researchers also say that Joro spiders are so good at living with humans that it’s unlikely that they’re going away anytime soon.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.