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Identification and Treatment of a Wolf Spider Bite

Updated on September 07, 2016

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.

Bite Symptoms

A wolf spider bite can be:

  • Painful
  • May cause swelling and itching
  • Red

Though the pain and swelling only lasts for a few days (10 at the most), a wound can become:

  • Red
  • Swollen
  • Uncomfortable
  • 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:

  • Itchiness
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • 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.

There are many different kinds of wolf spiders. They're usually hairy, gray, brown, or black with stripy colored markings on their bodies. They range in size from 0.4 to 1.38 inches (10 to 35 mm) (legs not included).
There are many different kinds of wolf spiders. They're usually hairy, gray, brown, or black with stripy colored markings on their bodies. They range in size from 0.4 to 1.38 inches (10 to 35 mm) (legs not included). | Source

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.

The wolf spider may be recognized by its eight eyes arranged in three rows. From this angle, you can hardly see the top row of two eyes.
The wolf spider may be recognized by its eight eyes arranged in three rows. From this angle, you can hardly see the top row of two eyes. | Source
Wolf Spider
Black Widow
Brown Recluse
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.
Danger Level
Toxic but not fatal.
Extremely toxic and possibly fatal.
Moderately toxic; can be fatal.
Wolf vs. Brown Recluse vs. Black Widow Spider Bites

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.


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      raul 3 years ago

      spiders are not even scary lol

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      Ronnie 3 years ago

      They are if they are poisonous. But if they are jumping spiders they are cool

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      Candace Raburn 3 years ago

      went to the circus & had to leave due to heart palpatations, dizziness, & nausea.

    • profile image

      Hailee lappen 2 years ago

      Wow that hurts to look at it

    • profile image

      javen 2 years ago

      got a wolf spider bite from a camping trip

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      Florida 2 years ago

      I've been bitten twice in the last two weeks. It doesn't hurt one bit.

    • profile image

      Person 2 years ago

      I think ive been biten by one

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      Lance 2 years ago

      It says wolf spiders are mainly is South America and Australia but I just had one clime out of a shirt I was about to put on and I live in texas

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      marie thomas 20 months ago

      I was spraying trees and a mom with babies got into my sweater by running down my arms. I suffered numerous bites (30-50) Chills, intense iching and swollen areas all over under arms, on chest areas.

      Used an antibiotic but not helpful. Ice helped! So far, three days of misery.

      It was a Wofspider. I was lucky because it wasn't a Recluse/Widow. M Thomas.

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      kells 19 months ago

      I had got bitten by one on the side of my head and i hav been very tired and lethargic. i have no appetite. i try ti drink water but i can't consume to much.. I am concerned.

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      Kenzie 14 months ago

      My brother got bite by some thing it red and it a tryangle and to red dot what is it

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      Adam 8 months ago

      I went on a camping tent and woke up to a giant wolf spider on the wall of the tent about a foot from my face

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      martin mocha 7 months ago

      Wolf spider bites DO contain vemon and any article that suggests otherwise has failed the Rhesus Monkey IQ test. ALL spiders of the labidognatha (true spiders) and Mygalomorph sub orders (trantulas etc.) inject venom in various doses and consist of varying levels of toxicity. The wolf spiders (formerly called the Lycosides) certainly DO INJECT VENOM as do all their relatives including the Ctenids, Dolomedes, Argiops, jumping spiders and sheet web "funnel" spiders, Loxosceles (brown recluse) plus the Theradids which include the infamous black widows etc..

      Wolf spiders are not considered "dangerous" or lethal as compared to Latrodectus (black widows) or the much feared Ctenids of South America called Phoneutria, both P. fera and P. nigriventer, both possessing what labs have measured as the most toxic spider venom but luckily for its victims, Phoneutrias normally refrain from injecting a full load unlike the dangerous Sydney Funnel Web (Mygalomorph) called Atrax robustus. Its true that excluding the Brown Recluse and Latrodectus, 98% of most North American spider bites will not create systemic reactions not counting allergic reactions or sensitivities to possible bacterial or other agents contained in the venom. The best possible rule of thumb is.....respect ALL spiders and avoid getting bitten and all costs!:-)

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      martin mocha 7 months ago

      I was so shocked by some of the incredibly ignorant comments I stumbled across while reading various Spider bite articles I felt I had to respond to the most  moronic statement from somebody calling themselves "Mountain Lion" that "no spider can kill a human” which is tantamount to stating no human has ever killed an animal or that the Sea Wasp jelly fish, Chironex Fleckeri, is as harmless as a bowl of jello:-)

      From Latrodectus (Black Widows) to Phoneutria (Brazilian Wandering spiders) to Atrax robustus (Sydney Funnel Web), Loxosceles and so forth, there is ample, readily available documentation detailing scores of human fatalities attributable to various species over the decades as mentioned above. Various Phoneutria sp. for instance, are considered to possess the most virulent spider neurotoxin yet measured in a lab and fortunately for human victims, the Phoneutria spiders (mainly P. fera and P. nigriventer) are very careful with how much venom they inject unlike the primitive Mygalomorph spiders i.e., the Sydney Funnel web and still, there have been documented human fatalities from the Phoneutria bite (see Wolfgang Bucheral’s studies in his book "Venomous Animals and their Venoms Vol. III”) among the more notable.

      If spiders like Phoneutria injected a full load per every chance encounter with humans, their bite could result in a possible fatality every time if antivenin was not available. Lastly, as per some of the “chats” and internet comments I have read that blabber on touting how “harmless” most North American spiders are, I say NEVER assume a spider is "harmless" which is one of the most absurd fallacies promoted by clueless morons. For instance, Dolomedes tenebrosus, which is abundant in my area of New Hampshire, certainly isn't known to possess a venom toxic enough to cause substantial damage to humans, however; the Dolomedes or Lycosides (Wolf spiders) can not only inflict a painful bite, but depending on a persons immune system, possible allergies and where the bite occurs, almost anything is possible. 

      I know a roof contractor who suffered a horrendous bite reaction from a large Dolomedes tenebrosus that bit him while he was nailing in shingles on a roof job. He told me he accidentally trapped the spider and it bit him twice on his index finger than ran off. Not only did he suffer immediate intense pain due to the mechanical laceration from its chelicerae, within a few hours, the local bite area developed into a severe necrotic lesion accompanied by systemic effects such as nausea and chills. Even taking into consideration, this man might have had either a compromised immune system or obscure allergy/sensitivity to arachnid venom, never the less, it strikingly illustrates the potential danger of any spider bite.

      Rule of thumb, to anyone out there on the internet is, NEVER allow yourself to be bitten by any spider period, its simple common sense unless somebody is a masochist. The only thing more reckless would be to vote for Donald Trump:-)

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      Judy 7 months ago

      We have killed 5 of them so far this month inside my home. Time to bomb.

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      Thias 6 months ago

      I was bitten three times on the stomach last night and tonight when grabbing a towel off my floor I found a massive (okay about an inch by half an inch) spider on it. I couldn't identify it, I can't decide if it was a grass spider (I saw no spinnerets) or a new breed of wolf spider. We usually have the squat fluffy wolf spiders here, but this guy was long and skinny. I know it was not a recluse, I'm a hypochondriac so my mother made me memorize the appearance of th venomous spiders as a child so I'd stop panicking over every spider or bite. I'm not too concerned over the bite just yet, but I'm not at all comfortable with spiders that size in your home (and biting my stomach while I sleep, thank you very much)

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      Sleepingduringbite9-16 6 months ago

      I was bit by a wolf spider several days ago. I was asleep by have been bitten by this species before so am aware of symptoms. It is almost identical to the photo. It is still itching and I'm not feeling well, headache, nausea and fatigue. No big deal, but it's tough to prevent a spider bite when one is asleep.

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      martin mocha....does whatever a spider can.........or can't:-) 3 months ago

      FYI all you morons, a spider bite is NOT poisonous, it is VENOMOUS!!!! Please use correct terminology unless of course, U voted for Trump, then all bets are off.

      But back to the topic at hand, spiders, snakes, or any creature that "injects" venom IS venomous. Venom is injected....poison is ingested or absorbed, capish?

      They Lycosides, AKA wolf spiders, are generally non lethal as the article states, certainly not in the class of Phoneutria, Atrax, Latrodectus or Loxosceles, however; variable factors such as the victims immune system state, age, location of bite, allergies or general sensitivities to arachnid venom can have a PROFOUND effect which can be rarely but potentially fatal. Point being, avoid a spider bite at any cost, you NEVER know for sure what the end result will be

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