The anticipated arrival of the Joro spider in Canada is already giving arachnophobes here nightmares.
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In an interview with LCN, the entomological information officer at the Montreal Insectarium, André-Philippe Drapeau Picard, demystified the spider, which can measure up to eight centimeters.
The latter explains that the Joro was first seen in Georgia, in the United States, about ten years ago. Its resistance to cold, better than anticipated, suggests its arrival in Canada in a few years.
So here are six things to know about the Joro spider.
For Mr. Drapeau Picard, the arrival of the Joro spider north of the border is a matter of time.
“She should settle in southern Ontario first, before arriving in Quebec,” he predicts.
However, he believes that the arrival of this species could take a few more years.
Studies done so far demonstrate that the Joro spider can withstand slightly cold temperatures. However, it is far from certain that it will be able to survive the long and harsh Quebec winters.
“Although she is able to withstand a few degrees below zero for a while. (…) their eggs risk dying if it is very cold”, mentions André-Philippe Drapeau Picard.
The question many people are asking is: is this spider dangerous for humans?
According to the entomological information officer, the Joro is rather harmless, despite its impressive size.
“Its fangs, with which it bites its prey, are too small to pierce human skin,” he explains.
“There are some spiders that can bite humans, but usually they don’t. They don’t want to bite. They will only bite when they feel threatened,” adds Mr. Drapeau Picard.
Nevertheless, the reactions of frightened people can be dangerous for themselves, claims the entomological information officer.
“Generally speaking, the fear of spiders is far more dangerous than the spiders themselves. There are people who have set fire to their house wanting to get rid of spiders, ”he illustrates.
The latter invites people to put things into perspective, because of the approximately 40,000 existing species, only 250 of them are potentially dangerous for humans; and none of them exist in Quebec.
As for the risks to the ecosystem, it is too early to know if the Joro spider could pose a danger. The studies are not advanced enough to decide, believes André-Philippe Drapeau Picard.
“It is sure that it is an introduced species which could become invasive, if it starts to harm other spiders or other species that it could catch in its webs”, nevertheless advances the expert.
The latter maintains that we must continue to monitor the situation. Furthermore, he mentions that the Joro spider seems to be much less of a problem than some invasive plants.
Human activity remains the main factor for introducing a species into an ecosystem.
The Joro spider, for example, is said to have arrived from Japan by container.
This situation reminds us of the importance of remaining vigilant and doing prevention, says Mr. Drapeau Picard
“Once they have arrived, it is often difficult to eradicate them,” he says.
The expert invites the population to share their photos if they see a Joro spider. He also believes killing her isn’t such a bad idea.
“It’s an introduced species, so I wouldn’t have any qualms about destroying it, but as for spiders in general, you can take them gently (…) and you can go put them outside so that they complete their life cycle,” explains André-Philippe Drapeau Picard.
To see the full interview, watch the video above.