Palm-sized, invasive spiders are spinning golden webs across Georgia in ‘extreme numbers’

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A colorful, invasive species of spiders known for spinning gold-colored webs has been raging in Georgia for years, and scientists say they’re not going anywhere.

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The zoro spider, a palm-sized arachnid with yellow stripes, is native to Asia, but it has been taken out of the mass this year in northern Georgia less than a decade after it was first discovered.

The University of Georgia report estimates the spider’s first sightings between 2013 and 2014. Scientist used genetic analysis To confirm those sightings were zoro spiders in 2015, and Rick Hobeke, the collection director of the Georgia Museum of Natural History, tracked them down as they spread across the state.

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Hobeke gave the University of Georgia his “best guess” as to how the spiders made it to America by shipping container.

The spider has risen to “peak numbers” in Georgia, with sightings in about 25 counties, according to Michelle Hatcher of the University of Georgia’s Department of Entomology. Creepy crawlers have also been seen Parts of South Carolina.

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‘pest control’

With a length of about three inches and attractive colors, the spider may seem a bit intimidating, but experts say they have no interest in biting humans.

Entomologist Nancy Hinkle talks with an adult female zoro spider, which she says provides "free pest control".

Rather, they can serve as valuable “pest control,” says entomologist Nancy Hinkle of the University of Georgia.

“Zorro spiders provide us with excellent opportunities to suppress insects naturally without chemicals. I’m trying to convince people that billions of big spiders and their webs are a good thing,” Hinkle said.

Spiders also eat insects such as mosquitoes, flies and even stink bugs.

“I think people need to make peace with Joros and accept the spiders because they’re not going anywhere,” Hobeke said.

And despite their invasive species tag, zoro spiders don’t need to be killed. In addition to the benefits they provide in the form of pest control, experts believe that their rapid population growth will soon be naturally suppressed.

The spiders will mostly die in November, Hinkle says, but not before they lay down sacs full of eggs, likely their population come spring.

A female zoro spider is shown in Winterville, Georgia.  The invasive spider is harmless to humans, and researchers are investigating their impact on the local ecology.

In its relatively short time in the Americas, scientists at the University of Georgia have discovered no negative impact on the local, native species, which was a concern about the arrival of the zoro spider. Clemson University experts He said he did not know whether the species would negatively impact the local ecology of nearby South Carolina.

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