Fall is slowly creeping a toe in the door and we’re loving every bit of it. I walked outside the door shortly after sun up today with a skip in my step, reveling in the cooler weather (72 degrees) when half my bald head and face became enveloped in a thick and persistent web and I began to flail around like an imbecile hoping no-one would pass by to witness my confusing panic dance.
It’s spider season in the Georgia woods and we’ve got a new neighbor. Every year around this time, we find our walkways blocked by the webs of small spiders each morning. It’s a bit of a nuisance, but nothing a firm index finger can’t fix. This year things changed.
Many of you Georgians with a garden, or even just a patch of nature in the yard, may have recently found yourselves and your neighbors hoarding long sticks in order to waive frantically in front of you as you walk from hither to thither to avoid getting caught like Frodo in a mighty web. Rachel clued us in that the invasive Joro spider has established itself in our midst. She and Mandy are in R&D stages of developing a 3 Porch hat with a 3’ stick on the front of it. It can double as a social distancing hat, so you’ll get 2 things for the price of one and look super cool in the process.
The Joro spider is about 3” big. It’s yellow and black, with spots of red, and it has taken root in North Georgia and is pretty much here to stay. Widespread in Asia, it only landed here within the last 7 years and has used its aggressive egg laying (up to 1,500 eggs a year per female) to rapidly increase in number. Needless to say the strategy has worked. The little spider webs that used to be in the walkways in years past are now replaced by 5 foot monstrosities with big mamma and her lil man riding the center, waiting for murder snacks.
The coolest thing about it is how it spreads into new territories. They spin a ballooning web to catch the wind and fly up to 100 miles away. I saw this once in California. It was a beautiful day and I was laying on the ground looking at some clouds when hundreds of spiders gently floated by in the sky. I guess that could sound terrifying, but it was actually quite lovely. They were pretty small and I'd never seen or heard of anything like it. Just a bunch of little spiders floating by on strands of silk. It was enchanting.
These Joros, though big, aren’t really dangerous to people, but the bite is supposed to be equivalent to a bee sting. I did have one walking on my bare back the other day. I didn’t love that it was there, but it kindly didn’t bite me. I, in turn, did not hurt it.
So, keep an eye out for 3 Porch, 3’ stick hats. The only 3 foot stick hat with a neon 3 at the end of the stick. Or just flail about with your own twigs. Either one will do.