News & Politics

Plummeting Spiders, Other Plagues on Their Way to DC

Miss the cicadas yet?

Our new neighbor? Photograph by kellyvandellen via iStock/Getty Images Plus.

Omicron has faded and face masks are coming off. So it’s clearly time for some new plagues to hit the Washington area. Here are some top possibilities for nature to make your life miserable as spring awakens our region from its winter doldrums:

Spiders Diving From the Sky

Joro Spiders DC
Photograph by Geobacillus via iStock/Getty Images Plus.

Joro spiders came to Georgia from Japan, likely via shipping containers, the University of Georgia reports. The arachnids, which can achieve four inches in length, don’t limit their travel options to hitchhiking, though:

Joros can also use their silks to carry them across the wind to new locations, a behavior called ballooning. It’s part of the reason why Joros were able to spread so rapidly across the state of Georgia. When hatchlings emerged in the spring, they’d ride along to someplace new. Their offspring did the same the next year.

And they have superior cold-hardiness to other imports. Which means they could easily make their way up to the Washington, DC, area, Axios reports: “It looks like the Joro could probably survive throughout most of the Eastern Seaboard here, which is pretty sobering,” UGA’s Andy Davis told Karri Peifer. Also sobering: A spider the length of a toilet-paper roll swan-diving onto your head.

Brutal Hay Fever

Photograph by Laoshi via iStock/Getty Images Plus

Tree pollen is already at very high concentration in the region, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology’s National Allergy Bureau. Weeds and grass counts are currently at low concentration—which means the only way is up. At least you probably have a smaller chance of sneezing into your mask this year?

Crushing humidity

Photograph by tommaso79 via iStock/Getty Images Plus.

The DC region’s famous humidity historically begins to ramp up its misery in April—by the end of spring your clothes will likely float on a layer of sweat, you’ll need a shower after your shower, and you will vaguely remember the feeling of being dry. This condition will last until October. Please consult our sweat coverage for coping strategies.

A Possible New Coronavirus Variant

Image via iStock.

Remember that brief period in 2021 when we got to take off masks and thought life might return to something like it was before? You know, the pre-Delta days? Remember this past Thanksgiving, right before you got the push alert about Omicron? As we shed our masks and cautiously tiptoe outside our homes again, let’s just consult our pals at the Atlantic for a moment: “Somewhere out there, a Rho, a Tau, or maybe even an Omega is already in the works,” Katherine J. Wu writes. Cool, cool. Maybe belly-flopping spiders aren’t so bad after all.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.