Chances are, if you live in northeast Georgia you’ve come across an East Asian Joro spider this fall. At almost 3 inches across when their legs are fully extended, they’re hard to miss. While they’re roughly the same size as orb spiders, the distinctive yellow and blue-black stripes on their backs and bright red markings on their undersides are unique. Their enormous three-dimensional webs are a striking golden color and tend to be located higher off the ground than those of other spiders. “We’ve been getting lots of calls and emails from people reporting sightings,” said Byron Freeman, director of the Georgia Museum of Natural History. “They seem to be really common in riparian areas and in urban areas around people’s houses, but they’re also in the deep woods.”
Joro spiders have spread widely since they were first spotted in Hoschton, Georgia, in 2013. They probably arrived by hitching a ride in a shipping container from China or Japan. Joro spiders appear to have successfully established themselves in the area, with recent confirmed reports from as far afield as Blairsville, Georgia, and Greenville, South Carolina. But there is still much that remains unknown about them. One important question is how they might affect the local ecosystem. Will they out-compete other orb weaving spiders? Will they reduce insect populations through predation? “We don’t know what the impact is going to be…right now, we’re trying to learn as much as we can about them.”
So far, early observations indicate that Joros are coexisting with the area’s other orb weaving spiders, with webs close to, and in some cases even attached to, one another. And Joro spiders also appear to be able to capture and feed on at least one insect that other local spiders are not: adult brown marmorated stink bugs, an invasive pest that can infest houses and damage crops. In turn, Joro spiders are vulnerable to predators like mud dauber wasps and birds.
Here’s what we do know: Joro spiders travel by ballooning, letting the wind carry them on a strand of gossamer. “The male has to drift in and find the female,” Freeman said. “Sometimes there’ll be four or five males on a web, sometimes there’ll be one, so the males are moving between webs. When you have a large population it seems feasible that a male could just drift from one spot to the next.”
Despite their size, Freeman said that Joro spiders don’t pose a threat to people. “All spiders have venom that they use to subdue prey,” he said. “If you put your hand in front of one and try to make it bite you, it probably will. But they run if you disturb their web. They’re trying to get out of the way. “Freeman said that Joros can be shooed away with a broom if they’re in a location that puts them too close for comfort. But as for removing them permanently, he compared such efforts to shoveling sand at the beach. “Should you try to get rid of them?” said Freeman. “You can, but at this point, they’re here to stay. If you spot a Joro spider—especially if you can provide a photo tagged with date and location—please contact Hoebeke at email@example.com.
In the August 25 edition of the North Fulton Revue and News, editorialist Steve Hudson wrote about discovering one in his yard and doing his own research on it. He found out that the name Joro was given to this spider because in Japanese mythology a Jorogumo is a shape-shifting spider that can take on the form of a beautiful woman who tempts men into her grasp and then binds them with strong silk before devouring them.
Opinions on this sudden onslaught of these spiders and webs differs. While Hudson is ‘spellbound’ by the vivid colors and strong, sticky webs, bug expert Hal Coleman had a different opinion. When I contacted him via Facebook for his opinion, he stated , “Joro is a nuisance in my yard already.”
In his September 23 Atlanta Journal-Constitution garden column Joro spiders here to stay in Georgia, Walter Reeves writes “the spiders have now been spotted in at least 23 counties, as far west as Alpharetta and north to Rabun and Union counties. So far, they have been reported nowhere else in North America”.
Welcome to Georgia, Joro!
Today’s guest bloggers reached out to us from Salt Lake City with a recommendation via the contact form on our website. I think you’ll find this post/email inspirational and the recommended article and its links informational.
“As a youth services librarian and educator, I would just like to reach out with a quick word of thanks! Your Garden Club’s resource links list has been a big help to me during these times of remote learning, as I’ve been running a fun educational project on horticulture and botany for a small group of 10-14 year olds online over the last few weeks. Thanks so much for sharing with us!
I hope you don’t mind, one of our youngest, Amelia has also asked me if I could share a piece that she and her mother found together on growing fragrant herbs, which includes a great breakdown on the benefits of having an herb garden, what you can grow, different uses for cooking, aromatherapy, etc. I’ve included it below (note from Suzy: I turned it into this clickable link… Growing Fragrant Herbs | Fragrances & Perfumes) if you’d like to review! We noticed you don’t have this one listed, but Amelia was actually the one to bring up that this could be something you might like to include for other students and families who may also have an interest in learning more about herb gardens during their down time, like our group!
If you find you are able to include her suggestion, would you please let me know? We’re meeting tomorrow virtually, and I would absolutely love to surprise Amelia as well as the group if you’re able to do so – my hope is to keep spirits up in spite the past year’s events. I think Amelia would be proud to know she was able to pay it forward and perhaps show her mother the contribution if it ends up being included!
Thanks again for all your help here, Barbara Lincoln”
…Thanks for sharing with us Barbara. We are proud to post this information from Amelia and appreciate your group paying forward. Happy explorations & happy gardening to all of you…Suzy Crowe on behalf of Roswell Garden Club
The Chelsea Flower Show 2021 was unlike any other — Virtual Chelsea was May 18 through May 21 and the Chelsea Flower Show was September 21 – 26. The September show included twenty-seven gardens and two new garden categories–Balcony Gardens and Container Gardens.
The Virtual Chelsea videos, which you can see on the video tab of the RHS YouTube Channel, focus on plants. famous garden designers’ gardens, and the design plans for the September Chelsea Flower Show gardens. I found the videos fascinating, especially since the video design plans for the September show gardens are quite fascinating when you compare them to the actual show gardens.
Unfortunately, there aren’t walk-throughs of the Chelsea Flower Show on YouTube; but, if you have BritBox, you can watch all seven episodes of the BBC’s show RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021.
If you are making your journey through the September Chelsea Flower Show, click here to see the Royal Horticultural Society You Tube channel’s gorgeous introduction to the Chelsea Flower Show 2021. After that, you can browse Gardens Illustrated’s great coverage of the show in Our Best of Chelsea 2021.
Some of my favorites from my exploration included:
This Year’s Container Gardens
- The Hot Tin Roof Garden – a beautiful urban patio garden with lush greens & textures
- Pop Street Garden – full of energy and bright colors
- Stolen Soul Garden – designed to raise awareness of mental health issues
- The Urban Pocket Forest – I had to look up the Miyawaki method of creating diverse multi layered forests after looking at this garden
This Year’s Artisan Gardens
I enjoyed the hardscaping in both the Guide Dogs 90th Anniversary Garden and the Blue Diamond Forge Garden.
This Year’s Balcony Gardens
The Sky Sanctuary was my fav.
This Year’s Sanctuary Gardens
The Parsley Box spoke to me. Reading about it made me hungry 🙂
This Year’s Show Gardens
Yeo Valley Organic Garden….wow. Just wow.
After reading all of the above, I found Growing for Chelsea, a behind the scenes article before the show, to be quite fascinating. I hope you get the chance to look at these videos and articles and enjoy a little peace of mind. Someday I want to get to the Chelsea Flower Show. Maybe I’ll see you there. Happy gardening!
As I sat at my computer this afternoon, I noticed that a praying mantis had climbed up the support post to the eave, out over a Shepard’s hook, and down onto my hummingbird feeder. It eventually took up residence under the feeder looking for prey. This mantis is still a “juvenile” as it will molt several more times this year to grow twice, maybe three times its current size. I know that fully adult Chinese Mantises have been shown to capture hummingbirds which is one of those wonders of nature that would seem impossible. But, watching this small sized predator being fearless when a hummingbird approached, I could see how a full-sized adult could subdue a hummer. This one stalked the hummers every time one would approach, even making an attempted strike. The birds were definitely leery. I did see the mantis snare a wasp and start to eat it, but quickly let it go.
Just a quick biology lesson from my friend Rick Kneisel, who is a biologist/naturalist/science teacher—All adult mantids die in late fall into early winter. Egg sacs, or ootheca, are produced on plants or even on the side of structures (depending on the species of mantid) and will remain dormant until the following spring. They will hatch once warm weather comes and they can go through development and look like very tiny miniature adults. It will take them all summer to go through enough molts to increase in size to become the larger mantids we see in late summer. The Chinese Mantid is an introduced species and its benefit of eating pest insects is tempered by its preying on many pollinators, butterflies, and even those occasional hummingbirds. Most of the egg sacs that are sold are of the Chinese Mantid and therefore have helped to increase the population of this non-indigenous species.
Many of us have plants and trees that are special to us. As part of National Garden Week, several RGC members shared pictures and thoughts about some of the items special to them. This blog post’s feature image is of a plant special to Linda B – Linda shares that, after more than 30 years and two moves, I still have the old fashioned bleeding heart plant that started out in my mother’s garden in Pennsylvania. That’s pretty special.
Linda Lee – 20 years ago Ron and I walked out of an old K-Mart and saw a rose bush with no flowers or leaves for 75 cents. Ron said it needs a home. Whatever color it turns out to be he said we will call it The Princess Rose after me. It bloomed a month later on Mother’s Day a year after my mother died. Today it still blooms with the most delicious fragrance.
Gretchen – This geranium is a small or miniature. I was given a cutting of this in 2005 by a friend in Connecticut. At the time she said it was Blue Bird. And it does have a blueish cast to the foliage when outdoors in the sun. The blooms are small peach clusters. I have enjoyed this all these years and I find it to be easier to grow than the standard size. This is my ‘mother plant’ and I take cuttings to root each spring. These small plants travel to New Hampshire and I put them in outdoor planters with other types of plants. The large plant usually survives the summer while I am gone as I have someone come in every two weeks to water the many plants that stay here. I always bring back several of the plants to pot here and be enjoyed as house plants in the winter. I look at this plant and always think of my friend Ronnie who gave me a cutting all those years ago. This is not the original as they at times become too woody and it is time for another to take its place.
Suzy – My dad grew this Japanese Maple from the Japanese Maple my brothers, sisters and I gave him for Father’s Day when I was in the 6th grade. The parent tree still stands at my parents’ house. It is magnificent, as is my tree. I moved my tree to my house in November of 2008. At that time, it was as tall as me. As you can tell, it likes my yard. I think of my dad every time I see the tree. The purple iris in the bed came from Grandma’s. We moved next door to Grandma when I was almost 4 years old. These iris were in her yard for as long as I can remember. I can’t tell you how old they are — but I know the iris they came from were planted in the early 1940’s. I love these iris. In addition to their beautiful color, they smell like grape jelly. And they remind me of Grandma.
Dotty – My Iris bed was established with plants that date back to when my children were small – over 40 years ago. Each time I moved over the years I would take a few with me. I have transplanted them so many times that I just wait to see what colors pop up each year, as I never know. This is one that surprised me this year.
Roz – These pictures are from my indoor sun room garden. There will be more blooms in a week or two. The single orchid was rescued by Linda B a little more than two years ago and given a home in my sun room.
Nancy – My white Chinese snowball viburnum was originally purchased some 8-10 years ago in a 3 gallon container at a nursery near Augusta. I had no idea where I wanted to plant it, so it remained in the container for quite some time as I moved it several different places around the yard. At the time of planting it was possibly 3 feet tall. It grew and grew and grew. Apparently it liked its final resting place. One meeting of the garden
club when we had a professional pruner as a speaker, I reluctantly asked when it should be pruned. The response to me was why would I ever want to prune this plant! In the winter is looks so dead and forlorn. However, as it begins to awaken and its leaves take on new life, it becomes a daily treat to watch this transformation. From small buds, to green blooms, and finally to magnificent white blooms, it is quite a spectacle! Thus it has never been pruned and has continued to be a delight to all who have visited and seen its beauty this spring. This is the prettiest that it has ever been. I tell people that Stan, my deceased husband, sent this beautiful blooming to me!
All of us at RGC hope you have special plants, trees, or garden ornaments in your life. If not, maybe National Garden Week is the time to change that.
On May 13th I participated in a Zoom panel discussion about the re-establishment of indigo on the Georgia coastal islands and the historic horticulture and use of indigo by African Americans. This was facilitated by SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design). Indigo was the most lucrative cash crop, ahead of cotton, in Colonial times. Used to dye textiles, the labor intensive procedure needed to extract the dye was accomplished by the labor of enslaved people. Archibald Smith, of Roswell, even experimented with indigo in St. Marys, Georgia, but was unsuccessful, probably due to weather and location. This may have contributed to his decision to move up-country to Roswell to establish his farm which raised cotton for the Roswell Manufacturing Company mill on Vickery Creek.
That early enterprise established by Roswell King and his son Barrington King became the economy the town of Roswell grew up around. The panel discussion touched on the history of indigo’s use as a dye for textiles and the recent efforts to re-establish the growing of indigo on Ossabaw Island on the Georgia coast and its legacy today. Several individuals are involved in the project to make indigo “a thing” again.
My interest in this discussion was sparked because I have the plant false indigo, botanically named Baptisia australis, in my garden. It is not the same plant that was cultivated on the coast, but may have been used by Native Americans for a similar purpose. False indigo is very sweet pea-like but has no fragrance. It is a legume. There are different colors: white, pink, and purple like mine. False indigo is a beautifully full bush in summer. It dies down to ground in winter and re-emerges in spring. I mulch mine to protect it from the cold.