In rare instances, a person may be allergic to spider bites. If this is the case, they will experience more pronounced symptoms and may feel generally unwell. However, this form of allergy is unusual.
In general, a person can treat a wolf spider bite in the same way as they would treat any other minor insect bite.
In this article, we take a look at how people can identify a wolf spider and what might happen if a spider bites them. We also examine the treatment options available for dealing with a spider bite.
What is a wolf spider?
Wolf spiders do not spin webs.
Wolf spiders are a common spider that are notable for not spinning webs. Instead, they hunt their prey with the help of excellent eyesight, which is unusual for spiders.
These spiders are solitary and can live in many different environments. People may encounter them in grassy areas and among fallen leaves. Some wolf spiders will live in and defend burrows while others may roam around looking for food.
Like many spiders, wolf spiders tend to avoid people but will live in and around basements, lofts, sheds, and garages.
Identifying a wolf spider
Wolf spiders are fairly large, ranging from 0.5 to 2 inches long. They are generally brown, but their coloration can change depending on the habitat they are in.
Wolf spiders have eight eyes, two of which are particularly large. If a light shines toward their eyes, they glow.
People can sometimes confuse wolf spiders with the brown recluse spider, which is a more dangerous venomous spider. However, brown recluse spiders have a distinct violin-shaped marking on their heads. They have six eyes, which are all the same size.
The other common venomous spider is the black widow, but these are distinct from both wolf spiders and brown recluse spiders. This type of spider has a smooth, black body and red markings on the bottom of their abdomen.
Are their bites dangerous?
People may confuse a brown recluse spider for a wolf spider.
Generally, a wolf spider bite is not dangerous.
In the vast majority of cases, a person bitten by a wolf spider will react in the same way they would from a bite by other minor insects. An itchy or sore red mark may appear at the site of the bite.
Bites from a wolf spider and other insects are very similar, so unless a person actually sees the wolf spider biting them, they may never identify the culprit.
As an article in the journal Critical Care Nursing Clinics of North America notes, spider bites may seem alarming, but in reality, they pose a minor risk.
In rare instances, a person may have a severe allergic reaction to the bite. If a person's symptoms worsen quickly, or if they start feeling generally unwell, they should seek medical attention.
The following symptoms could signal an allergic reaction to the bite:
- a rash around the bite
- breathing problems
Wolf spiders seek to avoid human contact and will only bite if provoked.
If a wolf spider bites someone, there are some basic steps the person can take to avoid infection and help manage any swelling, itchiness, or soreness:
- clean the area bitten with soap and water
- apply an ice pack to reduce swelling
- if the bite is very itchy, take over-the-counter antihistamines
- avoid scratching, which can increase the chances of infection
The symptoms should clear up after a few days. If they do not, speak to a doctor for advice and possible treatment.
To avoid wolf spiders, people may want to take extra care in garages and sheds.
Wolf spiders are solitary. As they do not produce webs, it can be difficult to know if they are around. This can make preventing a bite tricky.
People who store their shoes or clothes in an area that is easily accessible from the outside should check the items to make sure no spiders are living in them. Take extra care in places, such as garages, sheds, and lofts.
People should also be wary around piles of leaves, as some wolf spiders use these as a home.
Applying proper insulation to homes can reduce the chance of a wolf spider entering from the outside. Particular areas where insulation can make a difference include windows, doors to the outside, lofts, and basements.
In general, wolf spider bites are rare, and people do not need to be too concerned.
Wolf spiders will usually only bite people if they come into direct contact with them and feel threatened. Being careful around areas where wolf spiders might be living will reduce the risk of being bitten.
The vast majority of wolf spider bites do not require medical attention. If symptoms suddenly get worse, if they go on for a long time, or if a person feels generally unwell, speak to a medical professional.