Palm-sized invasive spiders spin golden webs across Georgia ‘in droves’

A type of colorful invasive spider known for its golden webs has been spreading across Georgia for years, and scientists say they’re not going anywhere.

The guru spider, a palm-sized spider with yellow stripes, is native to Asia but came out en masse this year in northern Georgia, less than a decade after it was first discovered there.

Reports from the University of Georgia indicate the spider first appeared between 2013 and 2014. Scientists Genetic analysis used To confirm those sightings as guru spiders in 2015, Georgia Museum of Natural History collections director Rick Hoebke tracked them as they spread across the state.

University of Georgia entomologist Nancy Hinkle compares an adult female guru to the size of her hand.

Hoebeke told the University of Georgia that his “best guess” for how the spiders got to the United States is by container shipping.

The spider has since grown to “huge numbers” in Georgia, where it has been seen in about 25 counties, according to Michelle Hatcher of the University of Georgia’s Department of Entomology. Fearsome reptiles have also been spotted in parts of South Carolina.

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“Pest Control”

About three inches long and attractive in colour, this spider may look a little scary, but experts say they are not interested in biting humans.

Entomologist Nancy Henkel interacts with an adult female guru spider, which she says provides '  pest free control "

Entomologist Nancy Henkel interacts with an adult female guru spider, which she says provides “free pest control.”

Instead, they can act as “insect control,” says University of Georgia entomologist Nancy Henkel.

“Guru spiders offer us excellent opportunities to suppress pests naturally, without chemicals,” Hinkle said. “I try to convince people that having a large number of large spiders and their webs around is a good thing.”

Spiders feed on insects such as mosquitoes, flies, and even stink bugs.

“I think people need to make peace with Joros and accept spiders because they are not going anywhere,” Hoebeke said.

And although invasive species are marked, guru spiders do not need to be killed. In addition to the benefits it provides such as pest control, experts believe that rapid population growth will soon be naturally suppressed.

The spiders will mostly die in November, Hinkel says, but not before laying the bags full of eggs, which could increase their numbers by spring.

A female guru spider appears in Winterfell, Georgia.  The invasive spider is harmless to humans, and researchers are examining its impact on the local environment.

A female guru spider appears in Winterfell, Georgia. The invasive spider is harmless to humans, and researchers are examining its impact on the local environment.

During their relatively short stay in the United States, scientists from the University of Georgia did not detect any negative effects on the local native species, which has been a concern about the arrival of the guru spider. Experts at Clemson University They said they don’t know if the species will have negative impacts on the local environment in nearby South Carolina.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Invasive Guru spiders with yellow stripes are on the rise in Georgia

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