Easing fears about “scary” nature

Oftentimes, you’ll see a story in the media about some very scary insect or spider or snake or what have you. It’s always good to do research to investigate what’s being claimed. A nice public service is to post on social media to ease peoples’ fears.

The most recent example I encountered was when somebody posted a link to an article about a supposedly “giant venomous flying spider” that’s getting ready to invade the Northeastern US. Known as the Joro spider.

It looked to me like a cousin of what we used to call a banana spider, which are very large and brightly colored but not dangerous. Even though it can feel alarming for a second when you walk into one of their big webs, which I have many times!

Inevitably, as usually happens, several people had commented on the article, saying that’s terrifying, I would have to light myself on fire, where can I move to avoid these, etc.

So I looked into it and based on what I found I shared the following:

Not to worry!!

1) Almost all spiders are venomous. They almost all have venom. However, the majority of spiders do not use their venom on humans. It’s for subduing the insects that are their food.

And 2) The Joro spider is not dangerous, according to websites of multiple pest-control companies. It “can bite humans and pets, but as is with all orb-weavers, it has small mouth parts and is not aggressive. Because of their small mouth parts, the Joro has been deemed as harmless and typically not a safety concern. If someone were to be bitten, it would be comparable to a bee sting.” (from Arrow Exterminators, Texas)

3) No spiders fly. Rather, some use a technique called ballooning whereby they shoot silk out their spinnerets and use it to ride air currents. It’s really pretty cool, and lots of spiders do it!

“Once baby spiders emerge from the eggs sac, they stay close to their nesting area for many weeks before traveling to new places.
They normally stay within the egg sac until they go through their first molt. After a few more days or weeks, the spiderlings start to disperse and explore new territories. Through a method called ballooning, they take on their first journey away from their birthplace. Some adult spiders undergo ballooning as well. Garden spiders, for instance, use this strategy to look for potential mates in other locations. If you see a flying spider in your yard, don’t be scared. These little arachnids don’t pose any threat and are nothing to be concerned about.” (from Stampede Pest Control, also in Texas)

4) The Joro is an orb-weaver. So mostly, when it’s not ballooning, it weaves a web and hangs out waiting to catch bugs.

And finally 5) Ooooooooh, awwwwwwe, pretty colors! Such a garden beauty!!!!!

PS. I really appreciate that the pest-control companies did the public service of letting people know that they don’t have to worry.

Oh, and kudos to this news station WKFR103.3, for posting an article on why Michigan might want the Joro spider to come to town.