Identification and Treatment of a Wolf Spider Bite
A wolf spider bite is not as scary as it looks!
Though a wolf spider bite can look pretty bad and even be fairly painful, this spider's venom is not very dangerous for humans. Time should be all you need for your body to heal, as long as you keep the wound clean.
Wolf spiders are recognizable because of their two prominent eyes on the front of their head that other common house spiders do not have.1
If one bit you, the bite might be red, painful, swollen, and itchy.2
What to Do if You Have a Spider Bite
- You can treat the swelling 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 and keep inflammation down.3
- Washing the wound with antibacterial soap and warm water and keeping the area clean can help prevent infection.
- Elevating the wound and keeping the area still can also reduce swelling.
- Acetaminophen can be taken for pain; antihistamines can be used for swelling and itching; and aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs can also help with swelling.
- 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.
Though the pain and swelling only lasts for a few days (10 at the most), the wound can be uncomfortable and the skin around the bite may turn black. Your lymph glands may also swell up.
In rare cases, some people may have an allergic reaction to the venom. They may have the following symptoms:
- Rapid pulse
If this is the case, they may require emergency medical care. Get help if the person is having trouble breathing.
In general, wolf spider bites are not very dangerous and there will be nothing to worry about. The wound will heal in time.
If you're having severe symptoms, something else may be happening. See the table below to compare your bite with the symptoms of brown recluse and black widow bites, both of which are much more serious than a wolf spider bite.
Pictures of a Wolf Spider Bite
Wolf Spider Bites vs. Black Widow and Brown Recluse Bites
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.
Symptoms may be severe — death is possible in rare cases
Symptoms can be moderate to severe — death is possible in very rare cases
How Do I Know What Kind of Spider Bit Me?
If you caught the spider that bit you it will be easier to identify. Of course if you don't get a good look at the culprit, the diagnosis is harder to make. Oftentimes, the thing that bit you is long gone by the time you even notice that you have a bite.
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.
Are Wolf Spiders Dangerous?
No, wolf spiders are not dangerous. 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. If you see 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.
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.
- "Wolf Spider." (n.d.) Wikipedia. Accessed April 19, 2017.
- Story, Colleen. Medically Reviewed by Debra Sullivan, PhD, MSN, CNE, COI. "How to Identify and Treat Spider Bites." October 20, 2016. HealthLine. Accessed April 19, 2017.
- "Insect Bites and Stings and Spider Bites - Home Treatment." (n.d.). WebMD. Accessed April 19, 2017.