Joro Spider vs Golden Orb Weaver: Battle of the Giants in the Web World

The Joro spider and the golden orb-weaver are two fascinating species of spiders that may appear similar at first glance but have unique features and characteristics. Both species belong to the group of large spiders known as golden orb-web weavers, constructing stunningly intricate, multi-layered webs with gold-colored silk. The Joro spider, native to East Asia, has recently gained attention for its spread across the Southeastern United States, while the golden orb-weaver has a native range in the tropical and subtropical regions of North and Central America source.

Both Joro spiders and golden orb-weavers display striking coloration, with the Joro spider showcasing bold yellow stripes against a black background source and the golden orb-weaver having an overall golden hue. While these spiders may appear intimidating, they are relatively shy creatures that are not dangerous to humans. As we dive deeper into the world of these fascinating arachnids, we’ll uncover their unique features, behaviors, and characteristics.

Joro Spider vs Golden Orb Weaver

Physical Characteristics

Joro Spider:

  • Bright yellow or brown, depending on gender1
  • Red mark on the back1

Golden Orb Weaver:

  • Dull orange back with yellow spots1
  • Hair on their legs1

Habitat and Distribution

  • Joro Spider: Native to East Asia2, recently found in South Carolina2
  • Golden Orb Weaver: Found all over the southeastern US3, especially in Louisiana, Florida, and Georgia3

Behavior

  • Both species are docile, not generally considered dangerous2, and provide a beneficial service by capturing other insects2
  • Their silk is strong and used to build very large orb webs with additional barrier webs3
Feature Joro Spider Golden Orb Weaver
Size (leg span) Up to 4 inches1 Up to 6 inches1
Web Appearance Large orb web with barriers3 Large orb web with barriers3
Color & Markings Bright yellow or brown1 Dull orange with yellow spots1
Distribution East Asia2; South Carolina2 Southeastern US3

Biology and Reproduction

Mating Rituals

In both Joro spiders (Trichonephila clavata) and golden silk orb-weavers (Trichonephila clavipes), the mating process involves the smaller male approaching the significantly larger female. Males use delicate courtship rituals, such as vibrating their bodies, to signal their intentions and avoid being mistaken as prey.

Example:

  • Male Joro spider vibrates its body to avoid being eaten by the female

Spiderlings

After mating, both Joro spiders and golden silk orb-weavers produce egg sacs, which vary in shape and size. These egg sacs protect the developing spiderlings until they hatch.

Example:

  • Adult female Joro spiders and golden silk orb-weavers produce egg sacs for protection

Comparison Table

Feature Joro Spider (Trichonephila clavata) Golden Silk Orb-Weaver (Trichonephila clavipes)
Web Size Large, multi-layered webs Large, golden webs
Size Ratio (female : male) Female much larger than male Female much larger than male
Physical Appearance – Female Bright yellow or brown Dull orange with yellow spots
Hair Smooth Hairy
Mating Ritual Male vibrates body Male vibrates body
Egg Sac Characteristics Size and shape vary Size and shape vary

Note: Both Joro spiders and golden silk orb-weavers belong to the Araneidae family.

By understanding the unique features and mating rituals of the Joro spider and golden silk orb-weaver, we can better appreciate their fascinating biology and reproduction processes.

Venom and Bites

Comparing Venom Potency

  • Joro Spider: Joro spiders have weak venom and are not considered medically important (source).
  • Golden Orb Weaver: Similar to Joro spiders, Golden Orb Weavers have weak venom, and their bites are not medically significant (source).
Spider Venom Potency
Joro Spider Weak, not medically important
Golden Orb Weaver Weak, not medically significant

Effects of Bites

  • Joro Spider: Bites from Joro spiders are rare and typically only occur if they feel threatened. Even when the bites occur, the venom is weak, and the effects are mild, with little to no allergic reactions (source).
  • Golden Orb Weaver: Similar to the Joro spiders, Golden Orb Weavers rarely bite, even when handled. If bites do occur, the effects of the venom are mild and not a cause for concern (source).
Spider Effects of Bites
Joro Spider Rare, mild, with little to no allergic reactions
Golden Orb Weaver Rare, mild, with no significant reactions

Examples of mild effects in both cases can include:

  • Swelling at the bite site
  • Redness or itching
  • Pain or discomfort

Global Distribution and Invasive Species

Asian Habitat

  • Joro spiders: originally found in East Asia (e.g. China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea)
  • Golden orb weavers: native to tropical regions worldwide, with some species in Central and South America, Africa, and Australia

The Joro spider (Trichonephila clavata) has its native habitat in East Asia, covering regions like China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. On the other hand, the Golden orb-weaver (Nephila spp.) has a broader native range and can be found in tropical climates around the world, including Central and South America, Africa, and Australia.

North American Expansion

  • Joro spider: expansion to Georgia
  • Golden orb weaver: native range includes parts of the southeastern United States

The Joro spider is considered an invasive species in the United States following its recent expansion into Georgia. Meanwhile, the Golden orb weaver (primarily the species Trichonephila clavipes, or the banana spider) has a native range that includes parts of the southeastern US, such as North and South Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama.

Species Native Range Invasive Status
Joro spider East Asia (China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea) Invasive in United States
Golden orb weaver Tropical regions worldwide Native to southeastern US
  • Both spiders can tolerate colder temperatures
  • Invasive species: potential threat to agriculture and the environment

Both the Joro spider and Golden orb weaver are able to tolerate colder temperatures, which might contribute to their expansion in North America. As invasive species, they could potentially pose a threat to agriculture and the environment, as outlined in this study.

Web Characteristics and Construction

Golden Webs

Joro spiders and golden orb-weavers both create unique, intricate golden webs. These golden webs are known for trapping insects and their beautiful golden appearance. The main differences between the web constructions are:

  • Joro spiders have more colorful spiders
  • Golden orb-weavers’ webs are known for their larger size

Some interesting features of these golden webs include:

  • Entangling or binding prey
  • Reflecting an electrical field

Web Spinning Process

The web spinning process for both types of spiders involves creating a series of threads and patterns, designed to effectively capture prey. The key characteristics of their web spinning techniques include:

  • Time of day: spinning usually occurs during the night
  • Method: creating sticky and non-sticky threads

A comparison table highlighting the differences in web spinning includes:

Spider Type Web Complexity Spider Size Web Size
Joro Spider High Medium Medium
Golden Orb-Weaver Slightly lower Large Large

While both spiders spin intricate golden webs, the variations in size and complexity differ between the Joro and golden orb-weavers.

Identification Tips

Joro Spider Features

  • Body length: Female jorō spiders have a body length of approximately 1 inch, while males are much smaller, around 0.3 inches1.
  • Color: Females are bright yellow or brown, depending on their gender, while males are less colorful2.
  • Marking patterns: The jorō spider features yellow bands and wide stripes on its cephalothorax, with distinctive red splotches on the abdomen3.
  • Legs: Jorō spiders typically have long, skinny legs4.

Note: The Japanese name for the jorō spider is “jorōgumo” (female entwining spider).

Golden Orb Weaver Features

  • Body length: Female golden orb-weaver spiders have a body length ranging from 0.9 to 1.5 inches, while males are smaller, about 0.25 inches5.
  • Color: Golden orb-weaver spiders have a dull orange back with yellow spots6.
  • Marking patterns: The golden orb weaver features marking patterns with a lighter background and darker lines7.
  • Legs: Golden orb-weaver spiders also have long legs but with hair on them8.

Comparison Table:

Feature Joro Spider Golden Orb Weaver
Body length Females: ~1 inch, Males: ~0.3 inches Females: 0.9-1.5 inches, Males: ~0.25 inches
Color Females: bright yellow or brown, Males: less colorful Dull orange back with yellow spots
Markings Yellow bands, wide stripes, red splotches Lighter background, darker lines
Legs Long, skinny Long, hairy

Footnotes

  1. Joro vs. Golden Silk Spider – Mississippi State University Extension 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
  2. Big Yellow Spiders in South Carolina – Home & Garden Information Center 2 3 4 5 6 7
  3. Nothing to fear as ‘stunningly beautiful’ Joro spider treks north – Cornell University 2 3 4 5 6 7
  4. https://extension.psu.edu/joro-spiders
  5. https://extension.psu.edu/joro-spiders
  6. https://extension.msstate.edu/blog/joro-vs-golden-silk-spider
  7. https://extension.psu.edu/joro-spiders
  8. https://extension.msstate.edu/blog/joro-vs-golden-silk-spider

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Golden Orb?

 


Hi! This spider has been by one of the back windows of our house – not sure for how long but it has us all fascinated. We think that it’s a Golden Orb (thanks to your site) but are not quite sure. Thanks,
Rich Puig

Hi Rich,
Most definitely a Golden Orb Weaver.

Letter 2 – Golden Orbweaver

 

*Must see* – Garden spider laying eggs
October 16, 2009
North CarolinaThis garden spider is the only form of pest control we use in our veggie garden – we find a pest, and into the web it goes. My 5 year old loves to help too, he named her “yellow butt”. She was well fed enough this season to produce two egg sacs, the second of which I was able to get these great photos of. I checked in on her every 5 mins for an hour and watched her progress. These photos are of her attaching the eggs to the base, but before she has encased them all in silk.
Josh
North Carolina

Golden Orbweaver laying eggs
Golden Orbweaver laying eggs

Hi Josh,
This spectacular species, Argiope aurantia, has numerous common names, and we prefer Golden Orbweaver.  Your egg laying documentation is a wonderful addition to our website.  Thanks for the contribution.

Golden Orbweaver laying eggs
Golden Orbweaver laying eggs

Letter 3 – Golden Orbweaver

 

spider identification
Location:  Central Florida
August 16, 2010 7:56 am
can you ID this spider living outdoors in florida?
Rockett

Golden Orbweaver

Hi Rockett,
Here in California, this spider is known as the Golden Orbweaver, but to avoid confusion, you should probably use its scientific name,
Argiope aurantia.  Common names often vary from location to location, but the scientific names are constant unless there are taxonomic changes and revisions. Argiope aurantia, in addition to its common name Golden Orbweaver, is also called Yellow Garden Spider, Yellow Garden Orbweaver, Black and Yellow Argiope and Writing Spider.  The final name refers to the zigzag pattern in the web known as the stabilimentum.  See BugGuide for more information on the Golden Orbweaver.

Letter 4 – Golden Orbweaver

 

Golden Orb Weaver
Location: Wilmington, NC
November 22, 2011 2:20 pm
I just wanted to share a pic of a beautiful spider with you. From the other pics on your site, I think she is a Golden Orb Weaver. She lived in our bushes for a while and then moved into the eave of the house next door. I’m generally scared to death of spiders, but I learned a lot from watching her.
Signature: Bridget

Golden Orbweaver

Dear Bridget,
This gorgeous Golden Orbweaveris also called a Writing Spider because of the zigzag stabilimentum that she spins into her web, presumably to help camouflage her from predators.  She is enjoying a nice meal, but we cannot determine the identity of her prey.  We also want to let our readers know that before we cropped your photo, it was dated August 11, 2011.

Golden Orbweaver

Letter 5 – Golden Orbweaver

 

Subject: large orb weaver?
Location: grand rapids, michigan
August 14, 2012 2:12 pm
hey daniel,
see attached images. very large spider with bright coloration on abdomen…
construction site in West Michigan.
august.2012
Signature: thomas

Golden Orbweaver

Hi Thomas,
The most definite way to properly identify this Orbweaver is by its scientific binomial,
Argiope aurantia, however that name is too ponderous for many, so common names are often utilized for convenience.  The problem is that there are a variety of common names and some of those names also refer to other species.  Common names for Argiope aurantia include Golden Orbweaver, Yellow Garden Spider, Yellow Garden Orbweaver, Writing Spider, Black & Yellow Argiope, Black & Yellow Orbweaver, and perhaps a host of other names that are highly localized.

Letter 6 – Golden Orbweaver

 

Subject: what is ’he’ or ’she’ called?
Location: staunton, va
August 31, 2012 7:03 am
I see these somewhat frequently late in the summer…they have amazing webs!!
What are these guys called? I have heard them called a hay spider.
(btw…I AM one of those folks that are ’terrified’ of spiders~but I do appreciate what they do!)
If I can figure out how to get the whole web this guy has made I will–the whole thing is taller than me–and Im 5’7”
Signature: mj

Hay Spider

Dear mj,
The surest name for your beautiful female orbweaver is
Argiope aurantia, but she has many common names including Golden Orbweaver,Writing Spider, Black and Yellow Argiope and Yellow Garden Spider.  Hay Spider is new to us, but we like it.

Hay Spider, flip side

 

Letter 7 – Golden Orbweaver

 

Subject: Argiope_aurantia
Location: Parkville, MD
September 22, 2013 12:18 pm
Beautiful specimen of a Black and Yellow Garden Spider, well positioned between my garage and trees.
Signature: Dan Hetrick

Golden Orbweaver
Golden Orbweaver

Dear Dan,
Thanks for sending your wonderful images of this impressive female Golden Orbweaver,
Argiope aurantia.

Golden Orbweaver
Golden Orbweaver

You’re welcome. We were all very impressed. Largest one I’ve seen around here.

 

Letter 8 – Golden Orbweaver

 

Subject: Shining.. Glowing.. Crawling not jumping
Location: Olathe, KS
August 16, 2014 11:33 am
It’s late summer, I live in North Eastern Kansas and it was midday and I was cutting tall weeds. This guy popped out and appeared to be almost glowing or shining from the yellow in the body, it also appears to have white kinda furry on the body as well, from end of leg to leg it was about 3″
Signature: Holland Temple

Golden Orbweaver
Golden Orbweaver

Dear Holland,
This is a Golden Orbweaver,
Argiope aurantia, and like other members of the Orbweaver family Araneidae, these spiders generally live only a single season.  This appears to be a mature female who probably hatched this spring.  Younger Orbweavers generally pass unnoticed until they reach maturity toward the end of the summer.  Orbweavers rarely leave their webs, and they are rather clumsy if they have to move on the ground.  We suspect you probably inadvertently destroyed this gal’s orb web, causing her to scuttle through the grass.  She will find a new location to spin a web and you will most likely find her in the same location day after day.  Though a large Orbweaver might bite if carelessly handled, they are not aggressive spiders and in the event a bite does occur, there is rarely more than local swelling and some soreness.  The web of a Golden Orbweaver is quite strong, enabling the spiders to snare large flying insects, and we have even posted images in the past of a luckless Hummingbird being eaten by a large Golden Orbweaver.

Letter 9 – Golden Orbweaver

 

Subject: spider
Location: Klickitat County, WA
July 22, 2015 9:40 pm
This spider was behind the dahlias on the north side of our house in Washington state, about 2000 ft. elev., yesterday (7/21/15). Just wondering what you can tell me about it.
Signature: Carla

Golden Orbweaver
Golden Orbweaver

Dear Carla,
This beauty is a Golden Orbweaver,
Argiope aurantia, and like other members of the Orbweaver family, it is a docile and non-aggressive spider that rarely strays far from its web, which it uses to snare its prey.  Orbweavers rarely bite humans, though a large individual might bite if carelessly handled.  The bite is considered harmless, though there may be redness and swelling near the site.

Letter 10 – Golden Orbweaver

 

Subject: Spider
Location: Fort Worth, TX
September 11, 2015 5:20 am
I’m in Fort Worth, Texas. Summer is drawing to a close.
I went to the park last week, as I do with my daughter on a daily basis, and I needed to make use of their facilities. I’ve done so before, though it is rather inconvenient with my dog and toddler in tow. I am in the habit of looking around, as you just never know what you may find. I looked up, and saw this large spider looming directly overhead. You might imagine my surprise.
I considered getting closer to take my photo, but realized that I really have no idea how dangerous thus particular creature may be. Instead, I used the zoom on my phone.
I tried to find out about this spider, which still reigns supreme, its woven throne spanning between the beams, evidently proud to be seen, so closely is it lit by the adjacent fluorscents.
Signature: Concerned restroom daddy

Golden Orbweaver
Golden Orbweaver

Dear Concerned restroom daddy,
This is a Golden Orbweaver,
Argiope aurantia,and though they are large, formidable looking spiders, they are not aggressive.  Most spiders are venomous, but like most spiders, an unlikely bite from a Golden Orbweaver would cause nothing more than local swelling and tenderness.  Large individuals might bite a person, but we repeat they are not aggressive, and as you observed, they do not wander from their webs unless they are disturbed.

Letter 11 – Golden Orbweaver

 

Subject: Big ol’ Spider
Location: Nashville, TN
September 26, 2015 8:37 pm
My sister came across this spider when she walked right into its web on her back porch this morning. She said the web felt incredibly strong. Is this thing dangerous?
Signature: Concerned big brother

Golden Orbweaver
Golden Orbweaver

Dear Concerned Big Brother,
This is a Golden Orbweaver,
Argiope aurantia, and it is not an aggressive species, nor is it considered dangerous, though a large individual might bite a person if it is carelessly handled.

Letter 12 – Golden Orbweaver

 

Subject: Spider
Location: Tennessee
September 1, 2016 4:01 pm
Hello, I have found this pretty big spider outside of my window. Still got yellowish greenish dots on its bottom and long legs. I’m wondering if it’s poisonous or harmful at all. Thanks.
Signature: L.T

Golden Orbweaver
Golden Orbweaver

Dear L.T.,
This is a Golden Orbweaver,
Argiope aurantia, a common North American species.  Most spiders have venom that they use to subdue prey, but few spiders have venom that poses a threat to humans.  Large spiders might bite if carelessly handled, but the bite of most spiders is not considered dangerous to humans, producing nothing more than local swelling and tenderness.  Golden Orbweavers as well as all other Orbweavers in the family Araneidae are considered harmless to humans, but again, we would caution that a large individual might bite.

Letter 13 – Golden Orbweaver

 

Subject: Spider in my garden
Location: Southern Colorado, USA
January 9, 2017 9:25 am
Hello!
I found this beautiful spider the summer before last and realized I still had and image of it but was not able to properly identify it. I found it mid August in southern Colorado.
Signature: Christopher Salazar

Golden Orbweaver

Dear Christopher,
Your Golden Orbweaver, Argiope aurantia, is of the genus commonly called Writing Spiders because of the stabilimentum woven into the web.

Stabilomentum of a Golden Orbweaver

Letter 14 – Golden Orbweaver

 

Subject: Orbweaver again
Location: Memphis, TN
August 9, 2017 11:44 am
I finally got a decent photo of my lovely new neighbor’s dorsal side.
Signature: Laurel

Golden Orbweaver

Dear Laurel,
Your female Golden Orbweaver,
Argiope aurantia, is beautiful.  Because of the zigzag stabilimentum woven into the web, the Golden Orbweaver and other members of the genus are sometimes called Writing Spiders.

Letter 15 – Golden Orbweaver

 

Subject:  Is this a spider?
Geographic location of the bug:  Burnham Pennsylvania
Date: 09/10/2017
Time: 04:26 PM EDT
What kind of bug is this.? Thank you
How you want your letter signed:  I just want to know what it is

Golden Orbweaver

The Golden Orbweaver is a Spider.

Letter 16 – Golden Orbweaver

 

Subject:  Spider
Geographic location of the bug:  Charlotte, NC
Date: 08/13/2019
Time: 04:24 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What type of spider is this?
How you want your letter signed:  Scott

Please cancel my request as I have found the correct ID using your fantastic website!
Thank you!
Sincerely,
Scott Lovett
Charlotte, NC

Golden Orbweaver

Dear Scott,
Thanks for letting us know that you were able to identify your Golden Orbweaver,
Argiope aurantia, one of the Writing Spiders, by searching our archives.  We appreciate you letting us know that we could cancel your request, however, your image is quite nice and we haven’t posted a recent image of a Golden Orbweaver, so we have posted your submission.

Thanks Daniel, I am honored to be on your fantastic website!

Letter 17 – Golden Orbweaver

 

Subject:  Spider or cricket?
Geographic location of the bug:  Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Date: 07/22/2021
Time: 11:46 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi there,
My sister found this bug in her dining room. It was over an inch long as far as she can remember. Can you help us identify what the heck it was?
How you want your letter signed:  Sara

Golden Orbweaver

Dear Sara,
This is a Spider in the family commonly called the Orbweavers, and in Daniel’s opinion, this species,
Argiope aurantia, which is commonly called the Golden Orbweaver, is the most iconic species in the family found in North America.  They are sometimes called Writing Spiders because of the pattern known as stabilimentum they weave into their webs.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

    View all posts

15 thoughts on “Joro Spider vs Golden Orb Weaver: Battle of the Giants in the Web World”

  1. I watched one of these spider earlier this year catch a small frog in its web and then proceed to gnaw or whatever spiders do to that kind of prey. I had to head to work and missed out on the outcome.

    Reply
    • Bernie,
      You are such a teaser. We want more information. Where was the sighting? What was the habitat like? Was it near a stream or pond? Was it a tree frog or something larger. Please respond.

      Reply
  2. So this post prompts me to ask a question…
    I think on Crowley’s Ridge in north east Arkansas we must have absolutely mutant Argiope Aurantia. Everything I’ve ever read on them indicates that the adult body size is only about 2 inches, and I see here that this little guy (legs and all) is only 2 inches.
    Here’s my quandry… the average body size around here is about 3 inches in the rural areas closest to the city (unfortunately we have very few within city limits in Jonesboro, AR). But out on the ridge near the rice fields, holy CRAP!!! Their bodies and legs get as big as your face!
    I’ve seen pictures friends have taken over the years of these ‘dinner plate’ spiders, but never seen them myself. I see the 3 inch ones all the time though, and they lay between 2-4 egg sacs each! I wouldn’t have believed they were from the same spider except I saw her in the process of spinning her 3rd the day after she spun #2.
    This fall I will make a concerted effort to document some of these monsters, as I can’t find any technical information that these spiders reach more than 2 inches in body size. Anyone else ever seen these reach gargantuan size?

    Reply
  3. I was about to post a picture almost identical to this one. She is gorgeous. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a spider so big. They are great decorations for Halloween.

    Reply
  4. LOVE the Orbweavers! We were lucky enough to have ours build on our living room window – we could watch her all day and night, catching prey, spinning .. it was amazing. The “zig-zag” pattern is so the birds don’t run into their webs. 😉

    Reply
    • The zig-zag pattern is known as the stabilimentum, and to the best of our knowledge, its true purpose is unknown, though warning birds is an interesting idea. An Australian Orbweaver known as the St Andrew’s Cross Spider is almost camouflaged in its stabilimentum.

      Reply

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