Popular children's stories have helped us imagine many strange things falling from the sky, including food (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs) and superhuman babies (Superman). And most everyone also remembers that old story about the paranoid chicken who believed the sky was falling (Chicken Little). Believe it or not, scientists at the University of Georgia now predict that something very unusual is poised to literally fall from the sky onto the entire East Coast of the United States this summer.
Just what is it? Giant...spiders! The Joro spider, to be exact. This spider is native to Japan and is the size of a child's hand. It's also a colorful arachnid that's a brilliant combo of yellow, blue, black, and red. Through an interesting process known as "ballooning," this spider is able to use its silk to catch and ride winds to new locales. With the help of wind currents and electric fields, the spider releases a few gossamer threads into the air and receives an electric "push" off the ground.
The large Joro spider originally came to the southeastern United States in 2013 likely by way of shipping containers. Their high metabolism and heart rate allow the Joro to survive in weather that other spiders might freeze in, making them ideal arachnids for the Eastern Seaboard.
If the thought of giant spiders sailing down onto your front porch sounds frightening, you're not alone. However, experts assure us that, despite its size, the Joro is a harmless species. This is because their fangs are too small to break human skin. Researchers also ask the public to not be overly aggressive toward these colorful spiders. They pose no threat and they're here to stay.