I’ve got three words for you: Giant. Parachuting. Spiders.

Yes, yes my friends, to whoever carelessly said out loud, “This year could not get any weirder,” I would ask you to stop speaking. Challenge not the gods of irony for lo, you have brought down upon us massive spiders with striped legs and brightly colored bodies that leap through the air and spin giant webs.

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at [email protected]

Thanks a lot.

Before the uproar … Yes, I admit, scientifically speaking, spiders are cool.

Spiders eat an awful lot of annoying, pain-causing, disease-carrying insects. According to CNN, spiders eat an estimated 400 million to 800 million metric tons of insects every year.

Not only that, but then they get eaten, providing a nourishing, tasty treat for a vast array of lizards, small animals and birds, lovely birds that bring us such joy.


Beyond their valuable role in the ecosystem, spiders have played a huge role in some crazy scientific and medical advances, too. Heck, even Modern Pest, a company designed to make a profit off eliminating bugs, urges you to think twice before eradicating spiders, noting that spider venom “can be used to treat cardiac arrhythmia and Alzheimer’s disease,” and “Their silk can be spun into a variety of valuable items, from bulletproof clothing to artificial tendons and ligaments.”

That said, come on. Spiders are also super creepy.

I don’t want one harmed. I myself am a confirmed “glass over/paper under, move it outside” gal if ignoring it is not an option. But there is no denying that something with eight whacky legs, a massive abdomen, way too many eyes – and, hello, fangs – is creepy.

So far, here in the frozen north, we’ve really only had to contend with the lightweight models. A wolf spider here, a barn spider there, a daddy long legs scuttling by … the occasional panic over a brown recluse that always turns out to be something else altogether. No black widows, nothing really dangerous.

And, if the scientists are to be believed, tiny fangs that “usually” can’t pierce skin mean the lack of danger continues, but heaven help us. Have you seen pictures of the new spider coming? It’s huge!

According to NPR, “A joro spider can grow to be about 3 inches long, including a large bulbous body with bright yellow stripes. Its underbelly has distinctive red markings, and it weaves large webs that look as if they’re spun from golden silk.”


Golden silk. Um-hm. I wonder if that will make me leap less high when I accidentally walk into one at face height. I rather doubt it.

A warming climate and a high metabolism are major factors in the spiders’ anticipated ability to increase their territory over much of the East Coast, and those golden silk webs are a large part of how.

In addition to accidental transportation by humans, the hatchlings like to “balloon” through the air, using those webs as a parachute to travel pretty decent distances.

In “The Winter’s Tale,” the great poet Shakespeare wrote:


That come before the swallow dares, and take

The winds of March with beauty.

All hail the joro spider, which seems adept at doing just that very thing, though maybe a touch later in the season.

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