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Joro spiders could make their way to New England. But it will take years — and they mean you no harm

The joro spider, a large spider native to East Asia, is seen in Johns Creek, Ga. The spider spun its thick, golden web on power lines, porches and vegetable patches all over north Georgia last year – a proliferation that has driven some unnerved homeowners indoors and prompted a flood of anxious social media posts. (Alex Sanz/AP)
The joro spider, a large spider native to East Asia, is seen in Johns Creek, Ga. The spider spun its thick, golden web on power lines, porches and vegetable patches all over north Georgia last year – a proliferation that has driven some unnerved homeowners indoors and prompted a flood of anxious social media posts. (Alex Sanz/AP)

Four-inch spiders from Southeast Asia could make their way to New England — eventually. But if they do, it probably won’t be as alarming as it sounds.

They’re called joro spiders, and they arrived in the southeast U.S. about eight years ago. Researchers believe that happened by way of shipping container.

“I’ve always kind of referred to them as ‘a Nerf football with legs,’ ” said Benjamin Frick, who studies joros at the University of Georgia in Athens.

The neon-yellow arachnids can grow as large as the palm of a hand. Their populations often spread when wind carries rice grain-sized hatchlings on webs.

“It’s not like the spiders are sort of raining down from the heavens, Armageddon-style,” Frick said. “You’re not going to see, like, any crazy scenes with baby spiders coming in a wave over cars or anything like that.”

The good news? Joros don’t harm humans (even though they are technically venomous). In fact, they’re quite timid.

“I think that it’s fair to say that if anyone is ever bitten by a joro spider, it’s probably the person’s fault, not the joro spider’s,” Frick said.

He estimates joros could show up in Massachusetts in five to 10 years. If that happens, they’ll likely only be here during the summer months.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2022 WBUR. To see more, visit WBUR.