Identification and Treatment of a Wolf Spider Bite
A wolf spider bite looks a lot scarier than it is!
Unlike other some other spider bites, wolf spider venom does not cause necrosis (death of the skin surrounding the bite), or other severe symptoms. That said, the trauma of the bite itself can be alarming. The spiders have two sharp, horizontal fangs which can cause damage to the skin.
A wolf spider bite can be:
- May cause swelling and itching
Though the pain and swelling only lasts for a few days (10 at the most), a wound can become:
- Skin around the bite may turn black and lymph glands may swell
In rare cases, some people may have an allergic reaction. They may feel:
- Rapid pulse
If this is the case, they may require emergency medical care.
Precautions should be taken with any spider bite, especially when you are not sure what type of spider has bitten you. You should observe the bite area attentively and note any gross or rapid changes.
Here's what to do:
- The swelling can be treated at home with the application of an icepack or a cool wet cloth over the bite. The coldness can help prevent the venom from spreading.
- Washing the wound with an antibacterial soap and warm water and keeping that area clean can help prevent infection.
- Elevating the wound and keeping the area still can also reduce swelling.
- Do not use a tourniquet at the proximal area of the wound.
- Acetaminophen can be taken for pain. Antihistamines can be used for swelling and itching. Aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs can help with swelling. A doctor might prescribe analgesics for the pain and antibiotics for prophylaxis or for infection control.
- If you notice that the wound starts to spread or if your symptoms get worse after seven days, you should see a doctor since the spider may have been mis-identified or there could be another kind of reaction going on.
Remember that these bites do not present a grave danger. In the case of a severe reaction, however, prompt medical attention is needed. If the redness or swelling is severe, it may indicate an allergic reaction. A serious reaction is very rare, but strict monitoring of the bite area should be observed.
How Do I Know What Kind of Spider Bit Me?
If you see the spider that bit you, it's easier to identify, but of course, if you don't get a good look at the culprit, the diagnosis is harder to make.
If you can see them, wolf spiders are easily recognizable by their two largest eyes, which can be seen even on the smallest of them. They are often mistaken for brown recluse or black widow spiders, both of which are more dangerous.
Sometimes the thing that bit you is long gone by the time you regain your wits. If this is the case, a careful examination of the bite is all you can do to determine what type of spider it was.
Appearance of Bite
You may see evidence of the two fangs. Some swelling and redness is likely.
Two swollen red marks.
Looks like a target: A red bulls-eye in the middle surrounded by a white ring and an outer red ring.
Immediate pain. Swelling, redness, or darkening of the skin. Lymph glands may be swollen. Symptoms may persist up to 10 days.
The bite feels like a pinprick. Pain can progress and extend to the abdomen, muscles, and soles of feet. Eyelids may feel heavy and breathing may be affected. Cold, clammy skin and changes in pulse may worsen to convulsions and unconsciousness. Can be fatal.
Pain, burning, and itching within 10 minutes. A blister may form which may worsen. Vomiting, fever, chills, hemolysis, and/or destruction of blood cells. Sometimes fatal.
Toxic but not fatal.
Extremely toxic and possibly fatal.
Moderately toxic; can be fatal.
What Does a Wolf Spider Bite Look Like?
Are Wolf Spiders Dangerous?
A wolf spider (also called the ground or hunting spider) belongs to the Lycosidae family, a word that means “wolf." They live in burrows rather than spinning webs and prefer warm places. They are common in the US and Canada, where about 200 known species from this family can be found, and they're also commonly found in South America and Australia.
They range in size from 0.4 to 1.38 inches (10 to 35 mm) (legs not included) and may be recognized by their eight eyes arranged in three rows. They are fast runners and can be found in homes, especially during the winter season, but their preferred habitat is areas like forests, prairies, meadows, and gardens. They do not spin webs.
They can be aggressive when it comes to hunting their prey, but they won't bite a person unless provoked. If threatened, it will first try to retreat. Before it defends itself, it will rear up on its legs, exposing its large fangs. If you sees a hairy gray, brown, or black spider with stripy colored markings on its body, be careful not to provoke or attack it because it may strike in self-defense.
If aggressively provoked, they will inject venom. For humans, a bite from this spider is nonlethal but very painful. Its venom does not present a grave danger.