Prepare for an invasion of parachuting spiders the size of your palm

The population of non-native Joro spiders has exploded in Georgia and entomologists expect huge numbers of the strikingly-colorful arachnids, each approximately the size of your palm, to parachute across the East Coast. According to new research, the spiders (Trichonephila clavata) adapt to colder weather and can travel distances up to 100 miles on gusts of wind. The invasive species arrived in the US from Japan around a decade ago, probably on cargo ships. The good news? They won't hurt you. From Smithsonian:

Some scientists say East Coasters have nothing to worry about—the spiders haven't shown any signs of disturbing local ecosystems, they don't harm humans, and they even eat pests like stink bugs, writes the Associated Press' Sudhin Thanawala.

"This is wonderful. This is exciting. Spiders are our friends," Nancy Hinkle, an entomologist at the University of Georgia, told the wire last year. "They are out there catching all the pests we don't want around our home."

But not all scientists are as enthusiastic. 

"You really don't know if this is displacing native stuff or not," Dave Coyle, a professor of forest health and invasive species for Clemson University tells Fox Carolina's Amanda Shaw. "So personally, I'm not prepared to say that it's not harmful. But I can say that it's not harmful to people or pets."

image: Christina Butler (CC BY 2.0)