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Expert says palm-sized spiders not likely to impact Kentucky

Joro spiders, which are the size of a human palm and can fall from great heights, should pose...
Joro spiders, which are the size of a human palm and can fall from great heights, should pose little concern for most Kentuckians. Jonathan Larson, University of Kentucky entomologist, does not expect the large spider to appear in the state this year.(University of Kentucky)
Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 3:13 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A University of Kentucky entomologist says Joro spiders, which are the size of a human palm, shouldn’t be of much concern for most Kentuckians.

“The Joro spider has attracted a lot national attention recently because of reports regarding its potential range expansion along the East Coast this summer and beyond,” said Jonathan Larson, extension entomologist in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “Its numbers have been growing since it was first found in 2014 in Georgia. Given the natural expansion rate of the spider, it is unlikely we will see it in the Bluegrass any time soon. Though, you never say never.”

The spider has received attention because of their size and ability to “parachute” into new areas.

“It is a large spider, and their babies will ‘balloon’ into new areas, but this is true of how many of our native spider species disperse into new areas as well,” Larson said. “A big spider can’t float away on a silk strand. You won’t see spiders the size of a kid’s hand floating through the sky. It is just the ones that have emerged from eggs recently.”

Larson said the spiders are mostly harmless. He said their venom is not considered medically important to people or pets.

A release from the University of Kentucky said Joro spiders’ webs can be meters long and are stronger than the webs of native spiders.

Kentucky is home to several spiders that are similar to Joro spiders in size and color:

Joro spiders, which are the size of a human palm and can fall from great heights, should pose...
Joro spiders, which are the size of a human palm and can fall from great heights, should pose little concern for most Kentuckians. Jonathan Larson, University of Kentucky entomologist, does not expect the large spider to appear in the state this year.(University of Kentucky)

Those include the banded garden spider, black and yellow garden spider and the golden silk orb weaver.

UK entomologists want to hear from people who think they have found a Joro spider in Kentucky. You can submit spider photos on their Facebook page @kentuckybugs.

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