Will Kentucky See Those Big ‘Parachuting’ Spiders This Spring?
I've learned something interesting about human behavior, and that's the realization that I cannot assume that someone who is terrified of snakes will feel the same way about spiders.
ALONG CAME A SPIDER...A JORO SPIDER
I have friends who--like me--cannot stand snakes and would probably freeze up in the presence of one. They're the same ones who have no issues with spiders. I'm somewhere in the middle. I do not despise spiders, but I am respectful of them. I may have been bitten by a brown recluse last summer. The mark is still on the top of my foot.
Yes, brown recluse spiders are a cause for concern and should be dealt with, but a member of the orb weaver family called the Joro spider isn't a cause for concern...unless, as I mentioned earlier, you're petrified of them and you might have a panic attack.
You have likely seen orb weavers; I had one crawl right up my leg a couple of autumns ago when I was taking a break from my bike ride. They're beautiful.
ARE JORO SPIDERS IN KENTUCKY?
Right now, there are plenty of experts who are telling us that Kentucky does NOT have any Joro spiders at present. But that doesn't mean we won't get any. And you'll recognize them. They can appear to "parachute" from the sky, but scientists refer to it as "ballooning." But if you've never seen a spider the size of the palm of your hand BALLOONING either, that might be a little jarring.
It's been reported that Joro spiders--an Asian species--have found their way onto our shores and have turned up in Georgia, for example, as they have begun to spread throughout the southeast.
There have also been reports of sightings from Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma, and the Carolinas. Oh and, by the way, my favorite part was when he said they were harmless to humans. Sounds good to me.
WHY DO OBSERVERS CALL THEM 'PARACHUTING' SPIDERS
And why is the Joro spider's movement called "ballooning"? It's because this particular species will spin a long strand of silk and then glide through the air on it. That's why observers have called it "parachuting" because that's what it looks like they're doing. I don't know if any of these are Joro spiders, but I'd rather not encounter a scenario like this one, just the same. You'll see what I mean when you get to the eight-second mark.
One more thing...you know how you do that "spider dance" when you run into a web and you can't seem to get it off of you. Well, the Joro spider web would be especially tricky; it's pretty strong.
But will any of us in the tri-state get to see these ballooning Joro spiders this spring? There's no way of knowing for sure. If they wind up in some kind of shipping container, they could be transported to the Commonwealth.
But "hitching a ride" would have to be about it. I mean, yes, they "parachute", or "balloon", but those silk strands can probably only go so far.