A Big Ass Spider from 'Big Ass Spider!'

Oh Good, Giant Spiders Are Descending on the East Coast

Because murder hornets are SO 2020.

As if a global pandemic, World War III, and and Tucker Carlson weren’t bad enough, 2022 is coming in hot with a new invasion of giant poisonous spiders! Have you stopped screaming yet? The news comes from Benjamin Frick, co-author of a recent study of the Jorō spider species, which was published in everyone’s favorite periodical, Physiological Entomology (if you subscribe now, you’ll get a free canvas tote … filled to the brim with spiders!). The spider gets its name from Jorōgumo, a Japanese spirit (or Yōkai) that disguises itself as a beautiful woman to prey upon and consume men. Jorō spiders, or Trichonephila clavata, feature long legs and a distinctive black, yellow and gray-striped abdomen. The spiders can grow up to 4 inches in length, roughly the size of your palm that is currently clutching your face in abject horror.

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The spiders originated in southeastern Asia but were first spotted in North America about a decade ago (likely thanks to traveling over via shipping container). The spiders thrived in the warm climate of the southeast, but Frick’s study reveals that they can survive in colder climates as well, predicting a spread across the East coast.

Despite their menacing appearance, Frick assures us that the spiders don’t offer a threat to humanity, saying “In light of this, people should not embark on spider genocide—all this would achieve is the needless killing of a beautiful animal.” He then scratched his head with one of his eight arms and scuttled away OH NO THE SPIDERS HAVE TAKEN OVER DR. FRICK CALL THE NATIONAL GUARD!

While the spiders are venomous, they really only use the venom to subdue and eat fellow insects. Their fangs are “virtually incapable” of breaking human skin, and will only bite a pet or a human if they are actively constrained (so go ahead and shut down those underground spider wrestling rings). Paula Cushing, senior curator of invertebrate zoology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, assured the public saying “The biggest danger to humans is that you might get a face-full of lovely golden silk if you walk through the web.” Agree to disagree with that one, Paula.

Part of the reason that the spiders are spreading so rapidly is their practice of “ballooning”, where spiderlings use thin web strands as a sort of parachute and travel via the wind. While I am horrified, I cannot help but be impressed by their low carbon footprint. The spiders are actually effective pest control, eating mosquitos, biting flies, and stinkbugs. “There’s really no reason to go around actively squishing them,” Frick added. “Humans are at the root of their invasion. Don’t blame the Joro spider.”

I for one welcome our new spider overlords. Stylish, eco-friendly, and deeply off-putting, they’re the insect world’s Tesla. In the meantime, I’m just relieved to be living on the west coast.

(Image: Epic Pictures)

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Author
Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.