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Join the 2020 Joro Count. Help us spot the spiders and aid UNG scientists in their research of this invasive species
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A vibrant female Joro spider dangles from her web Sept. 23, 2020, outside The Times on Green Street in Gainesville. - photo by Kelsey Podo
To better understand the population of invasive Joro spiders in Northeast Georgia, The Times is calling anyone with a camera to participate in the 2020 Joro Count.  

From Monday, Oct. 19, through Monday, Nov. 2, people are asked to record their sightings of Joro spiders by taking a photo and plotting the address on this Google map. Each spider location will appear as a red marker on the map. For those who see more than one Joro in the same area, please indicate the number of spiders in the description. 

People can also send their spider locations, date of sighting and photos to joro@gainesvilletimes.com

When the 2020 Joro Count ends, The Times will send the data to a Joro spider research team at the University of North Georgia. Since August 2019, the group — led by Mattias Johansson, assistant biology professor — has measured the arachnid’s potential ecological impact. Through charting the spiders’ locations, the team will gain a firmer grasp on the species’ population size and range. 

By attaching a photo with each submission, The Times and UNG student scientists can determine whether the spider spotted is indeed a Joro.  

Many Northeast Georgians have already seen the arachnid with its black and bright yellow body and multi-layered webs. 

Not to be confused with writing and banana spiders — which are also yellow — people can identify the species by looking for key indicators like a splash or red on their abdomens and living arrangements.  

Johansson said the tell-tale sign lies with their webs

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This writing spider, also known as a yellow garden spider, has a few key differences from the new invasive Joro spider. The writing spider is shaped differently and its web often has the characteristic zig-zag pattern shown here. - photo by The Times

“Joro’s webs are three-dimensional and often big,” Johansson told The Times in an Oct. 7, 2020 interview. “The webs are also yellow.” 

Joro spiders — which are native to China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan — started popping up in Northeast Georgia in 2014, according to Johansson, who specializes in invasive species research. 

Participants of the 2020 Joro Count won’t have to travel far to find the large spiders. They thrive on the edge of forests and in people’s backyards, often making themselves at home under porches. 

2020 Joro Count 

What: Citizen science project where people can record and plot their Joro spider sightings 

When: Monday, Oct. 19, through Monday, Nov. 2 

Where: Anywhere in Northeast Georgia 

How: Identify the spider by the splash of red on its abdomen and its multi-layered web. Place a marker on this 2020 Joro Count Google map or submit the location and number of spiders to joro@gainesvilletimes.com. Include photos if possible. 

More info: Email Kelsey Podo at joro@gainesvilletimes.com 

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