Invasive spider expected to spread in US East -- but what about Michigan?

‘No reason to panic’ but hey, it’s a spider!

Nephila clavata, Joro Spider. (Wikipedia Commons)

A spider that only recently arrived in the U.S., considered an invasive species, is expected to spread across the U.S. Eastern Seaboard in coming years -- but what about Michigan?

Researchers at the University of Georgia, a state that first noticed the Joro spider in 2013 after it hitched a ride over from Asia, say the spider could probably survive in colder temperatures than expected. Thankfully, researchers said the spiders don’t appear to have much of an impact on local ecosystems.

“People should try to learn to live with them,” said one of the study’s authors, Andy Davis. “If they’re literally in your way, I can see taking a web down and moving them to the side, but they’re just going to be back next year.”

Davis said the spiders could actually serve as an additional food source for birds.

“The way I see it, there’s no point in excess cruelty where it’s not needed,” added Benjamin Frick, co-author of the study and an undergraduate researcher in the School of Ecology. “You have people with saltwater guns shooting them out of the trees and things like that, and that’s really just unnecessary.”

Related: Let’s talk about Michigan spiders: Some to fear and one to keep as a house guest

Since they were first spotted in Georgia nearly 10 years ago, the spiders have been spotted in South Carolina and in other states where people transported the spiders without even knowing.

Nephila clavata, Joro Spider. (Wikipedia Commons)

“The potential for these spiders to be spread through people’s movements is very high,” Frick said. “Anecdotally, right before we published this study, we got a report from a grad student at UGA who had accidentally transported one of these to Oklahoma.”

The researchers said there’s no reason to panic -- the spiders are mostly harmless and aren’t likely to bite. And even if they didn’t their fangs aren’t strong enough, most of the time, to break skin.

Ok, so what about Michigan? I asked Davis directly and here’s what he said:

“I just checked the weather patterns for the Detroit area. I think it may be a bit too cold for these spiders to successfully live in that region, although it would not surprise me if one or two get accidentally transported there once or twice each year. But these would surely perish.”

So, hopefully that will help you sleep better tonight.

Related: Michigan house centipedes: Why you shouldn’t kill them

Nephila clavata, Joro Spider. (Wikipedia Commons)

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.