Identifying Spider Bites (Recluse, Widow, Wolf) + Treatment

Information about spider bites

Identifying Spider Bites (Recluse, Widow, Wolf) + Treatment

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Most spider bites have little in the way any kind of sign. They are very rarely painful or felt at the time of the bite, since the majority of species of spider in the U.S. have fangs that are too small to really feel them.

Most spider bites, if they do appear as anything, will resemble two tiny holes or maybe bumps. Sometimes they will appear as a single red bump. It depends on the species of spider as different species have different venom toxicity and the size of their fangs. Some species have high toxicity and that can cause the bite to spread or to become necrotic.

Most spider bites will have little effect on people but some species can cause a reaction due to the venom injected.

Spiders are not seeking humans to bite because they prefer to save their bites, and venom, to capture and incapacitate food.

Humans are not on any spider's menu, so sometimes spiders will even provide “dry” bites that will be painful to deter further involvement, but not inject venom, leading to non-poisonous spider bites.

There is no definitive list of spider bite symptoms and it can vary from spider to spider and the tolerance level of the person bitten. Most spider bites go unnoticed and cause no more than a mild reaction in people inflammation of the skin, minor swelling and itching. Some spider bites however can lead to lots of pain, gangrene and even necrotic wounds.

The general treatment for spider bites is to leave them alone. Most of the time, there is little more than a slightly raised bump or bite marks on the skin. Most spiders do not inject venom in people and their fangs are quite small.

Washing the wound to ensure that there is no infection is important. You can bandage the wound, but keeping it clean is important. If the wound itches, anti-itching ointments and treatments found at most pharmacies can help.

If you experience an allergic reaction or the spider bite appears to be growing or causing rotting flesh, then seek medical attention. If you have any reactions to the bite such as fever, vomiting or other medical symptoms, contact a doctor and seek medical attention immediately.

Spider bites in sensitive parts of the body, such as spider bites on the face, should be taken seriously and medical treatments sought.

Read more facts about the bites of the Black widow and Brown recluse spider:

Adult Black Widow spiders are not naturally aggressive towards people.

  • They only bite as a defensive measure if they feel threatened.
  • Most defensive bites to people occur when the spider is unintentionally squeezed or pinched.
  • Bites may result in localized pain, tingling and small swelling around the bite.
  • Occasionally more serious symptoms can occur but are usually an exceptional reaction of the individual to the spider’s venom.

They only bite when crushed, handled or disturbed. Both sexes are venomous.

  • Reactions to bites will vary – some people are unaffected, others may feel a pinprick, others a stinging sensation followed by intense pain.
  • Some people may not be aware of the bite for 2 to 8 hours.

Although not proven, it is suggested that the bite of adult hobo spiders can have similar effects of brown recluse spider bites. 

  • Hobo spiders can be found in places that have cracks and crevices where they can hide. 
  • Hobo spiders are poor climbers and most commonly found in basements and cellars. 
  • Male hobo spiders are responsible for more bites as they wander into buildings during their early-autumn mating season. 
  • Circumstantial evidence suggests the bite of male hobo spiders is more toxic than females. 
  • Hobo spiders are most commonly encountered in Northwestern states in the U.S. but is rapidly expanding its range in recent years.

many other spiders, wolf spiders are not naturally agressive toward humans. They will bite when they feel threatened or are trapped near the skin. 

  • Wolf spiders have fang- mouthparts that they use to capture prey. 
  • Wolf spider venom is usually not harmful to humans.
  • Wolf spider bites may result in some minor pain and redness at the outset, but will subside over time.
  • These spiders are often confused with brown recluse spiders, but are less dangerous.

Generally speaking the best way to avoid spider bites is by removing spiders from your home or business and keeping them away.

Western Exterminator spider control and prevention experts can provide reliable, local, spider control services to get rid of spiders in the home and prevent them from returning.

If you have spotted signs of spiders in your home or business and want to avoid being bitten, we can offer professional treatments for complete removal of your problem.

Call Western Exterminator today at 888-727-0454 to discuss our spider control treatments. You can also use our online contact form to set up an appointment with one of our licensed and highly trained spider control experts.


Everything You Need to Know About Spider Bites—Including What They Look and How to Treat Them

Identifying Spider Bites (Recluse, Widow, Wolf) + Treatment

Spider bites are rarely a serious health threat, but knowing the kind of spider that bit you can help you get the right treatment.

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Of all the things to be afraid of, spiders and spider bites don’t need be at the top of your list for very important health reasons: Only two spiders in the US are actually venomous, and they don’t bite often and hardly ever kill or even injure humans. (Honestly, phew.)

The rest of the spiders out there—while they may be pretty ugly and can even bite—aren't harmful.

For more on skin conditions, check out our Skin Conditions Center

“People get over-alarmed when they have a spider bite,” says registered pharmacist Julie A. Weber, director of the Missouri Poison Center in St. Louis. “And sometimes, it might not even be a spider bite.” In fact, up to 90% of the bumps people attribute to spiders are actually caused by something else.

That said, if you do get bitten by a spider, try to catch it (without getting bitten again) so it can be identified by an expert. That will help identify the best way to treat your bite. Read on to learn more about types of spiders that bite and their symptoms and treatments.

RELATED: 9 Bug Bites You Might Get This Summer–and What to Do About Them



Although all spiders are different, spider bites do share some common symptoms. Most appear as tiny, red bumps on your skin that are sometimes painful and itchy. For most people, that’s as bad as it gets.

A few people do have allergic reactions to spider bites. That might include swelling around your face, itching over a larger area, and even trouble breathing.

Black widow and brown recluse spiders can both inject venom that can cause more severe symptoms, muscle cramps.

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The majority of spider bites are from nonvenomous spiders, so the best first aid is to clean the area with soap and water and apply an antibiotic ointment. Mark the date on your calendar, says Weber, who is also director of the poison center at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, and keep your eye on how the bite progresses for any signs of infection.

Non-venomous spider bites don’t typically require medical treatment, but if you’re worried, you can always call your local poison control center “to put your mind at ease,” Weber adds. (You can contact the national Poison Help Hotline at 1-800-222-1222 or text POISON to 797979 to save the number in your phone.)

Then, remember the acronym RICE, advises Rick Vetter, a world-renowned expert on spider envenomation and a retired research associate at the University of California Riverside. It stands for: rest, ice (to reduce pain and swelling, usually with cold compresses), compression, and elevation (of your arm or leg, if that’s where you were bitten).

Over-the-counter pain relievers may help with any pain from your spider bite, and antihistamines can ease swelling or itchiness.

Call your doctor or go to an emergency room if the bite area looks infected (say, it’s warm to the touch or exuding pus) or if you have more severe symptoms. The good news is that you have a window of several hours to get medical help, even if you’ve been bitten by a black widow or brown recluse spider.

“You always have time,” says Weber. “Symptoms can begin anywhere from one to three hours and can intensify over several hours to a whole day.”

Still, it's OK to be on your toes about spider bites. Here, six different types of spiders that can (and may!) bite you, what those bites might look , and what you can do for treatment.

RELATED: 11 Ways to Protect Yourself (and Your Pets) From Ticks


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Most everyday spiders are not venomous, and that includes the jumping spider. It’s one of the most common household spiders and is found all over North America.

Jumping spiders bite, but they usually cause itching and little else.

“Jumping spiders have good vision and some have an attitude, and if they see a finger they may bite, but I can’t say it has any effect,” says Vetter. “Jumping spider bites resolve in a couple of hours.”

jennifer m. ramos/Getty Images

Very similar to the jumping spider, wolf spiders are common and found all over the United States. They’re also not harmful, though you may have a red bump along with a little pain and itching.

“If they bite, it will hurt because of the fang penetration, but in North America, there’s no known wolf spider that can cause you to go to the doctor,” says Vetter.

Benadryl or oral antihistamines can help with the itching, adds Weber.

Suzanne L Collins/Getty Images

The brown recluse is one of two dangerous spiders in the United States. Recluse spiders are found in some parts of the Midwest but more in southern states: Missouri, Tennessee, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.

“Ninety percent of recluse bites, at least in North America, just involve inflammation and nothing more,” says Vetter. “Ten percent can take a long time to heal.”

A classic sign of a brown recluse bite is a sunken area where the bite took place.

“If you truly have a brown recluse bite, it’s going to be a small vesicle [blister], and it’s going to sink down,” says Weber. “It doesn’t get puffed up  a normal bump. It sinks down in the middle.”

That’s because the venom destroys the network of capillaries around the bite, causing the skin to start dying.

Brown recluse bites may also leave a bull’s-eye mark with a blue center surrounded by a ring of white and a ring of red. Some people have nausea and vomiting, a rash over their body, fever, chills, and joint stiffness anywhere from 24 to 72 hours after the bite occurs.

Apply ice to the bite and make your way to a doctor or ER, where you may be given antibiotics. If your urine turns orange or cola colored, it’s cause for immediate concern, Weber says. “The venom is breaking down red blood cells.”

RELATED: 4 Things to Know About Brown Recluse Spider Bites



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Known for their black bodies with red hourglass markings, black widow spiders are the second of the two dangerous spiders in the US. They’re more common in southern and western states, says Vetter.

Their bites can be harmful, but “most of the time people say it feels a bad case of the flu and they ride it out,” he says.

In other cases, pain from a black widow spider bite can become so intense, people have mistaken it for appendicitis or a heart attack. “They get super-severe muscle cramping and pain that radiates from the bite site and up the limb,” says Weber. “[Other] symptoms we look for are sweating. It could either be the whole body or part of a limb, the shin.”

Once again, apply ice or a cool compress and seek medical attention. Your doctor may recommend an antivenom for a black widow bite if your symptoms are severe.

Alexlky/Getty Images

Hobo spiders, which are concentrated in the Pacific Northwest, get a bad rap for being “aggressive house spiders,” but you have to really push one to get it to bite you.

“They have an unearned reputation as being dangerous,” says Jerome S. Rovner, PhD, professor emeritus of biological sciences at Ohio University.

More than half of hobo spider bites are “dry,” meaning they don’t inject any venom (which is better reserved to kill food). Bites that actually involve venom may produce some itching and small lesions, says Weber.

Kristian Bell/Getty Images

Despite its name, a camel spider is actually not a spider at all. It has no venom glands, and it can’t spin webs. The critters earned the misnomer from U.S. soldiers in the Middle East. They are arachnids (as are spiders, mites, and ticks) and known as windscorpions in the US, explains Rovner.

“They are non-venomous but can defensively inflict an incision- wound with their jaws if trapped against your skin,” he says. “The species in the US, all of which occur in the western part of the country, are small and harmless.”



Spider Bites: Symptoms, Treatment & Identification

Identifying Spider Bites (Recluse, Widow, Wolf) + Treatment

Let's get this the way: That red bump is probably not a spider bite. Odds are, it's a skin infection. The most common bacterial infections are either staphylococcus aureus or streptococcus. Both of those create red bumps that get hot, swollen, and spread out.

If it is a spider bite and you got it in the United States, it's very unly that you will die from it. Of all the spiders in North America, only two are medically significant (capable of actually making you sick): the black widow and the brown recluse.

Plenty of skin rashes and sores get diagnosed in the emergency department as spider bites, but the reality is that most are not. One case study of an outbreak of bites in military barracks—at least what authorities thought were bites—turned out to be MRSA. All the more reason to be skeptical of a diagnosis of spider bite in the emergency department.

Skin boils from infections are often mistaken for spider bites in the United States, even by doctors.

Illustration by Joshua Seong. © Verywell, 2017.

In the United States, black widow spiders are considered the most venomous. They have a toxin capable of a systemic reaction that affects muscle and nerve function. Black widow spider bite symptoms can be used to diagnose these bites and include:

  • “Fang” marks (tiny twin holes): telltale signs that are only visible right after the bite happens, before any swelling or redness occurs
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Muscular cramps (legs, stomach, etc.)
  • Rapid pulse
  • Exhaustion

Other countries have a widow spider called the redback spider. It's a good idea to consider any shiny black spider with a red mark to be in the widow family. Another type of widow spider, the brown widow, generally has a weaker toxin and can be found worldwide.

It's easier to figure out when a bite is not from a recluse than when it is. One tool to rule out brown recluse bites is to use the mnemonic NOT RECLUSE. This mnemonic helps point out things that are not present in brown recluse bites.

  • Numerous: If there are more lesions than just one or two, they're not from a brown recluse. Brown recluse bites come in ones and sometimes two.
  • Occurrence: The way that a brown recluse bite usually occurs is through disturbing the spider. Most of the time it's hidden away in a closet or an attic, possibly in boxes. Occasionally, the spider can find its way into the bed and bite the patient in his or her sleep. If the occurrence was during gardening, it's probably not a brown recluse bite.
  • Timing: If the bite didn't show up from April to October, it's very unly that it's a brown recluse bite.
  • Red center: Brown recluse bites are almost never red and inflamed in the center of the lesion. Usually, they're pale, blue, or purple. They can be red around the periphery, but if it's red in the center, it's probably not a brown recluse.
  • Chronic: It takes 3 weeks for a small bite to heal or 3 months for a bigger bite.
  • Large: The biggest recluse lesions (the tissue that's dying) have been documented to be smaller than 10 centimeters across (four inches). They can be red and swollen well past that area, but the necrosis won't be any bigger.
  • Ulcerates too early: For non-medical folks, this one might be hard to remember. Brown recluse bites take at least a week to ulcerate (break the skin and crust over). If it's crusty before seven days, it's probably not a brown recluse bite.
  • Swollen: Brown recluse bites are flat or sunken in the middle, not swollen. If it's swollen (especially if it's red), it's not a brown recluse. The exceptions to this rule are bites on the face, especially the eyelids. Those swell significantly.
  • Exudes moisture: Brown recluse bites are dry, not moist. If it has pus oozing it, it's an infection rather than a spider bite.

Brown recluse spiders are only found in the Southeast United States and are very difficult to identify, even by trained arachnologists.

 There are several other species of recluse spider that are similar but less studied than the brown recluse.

Brown recluse spiders are often described as having a violin-shaped mark on the back of their midsections, but that mark can be inconsistent and very faint.

There are more than 40,000 species of spider in the world. Almost all spiders are venomous. That's how they hunt. Most spiders are too small, or their venom too weak, to be dangerous to humans. Some spiders are pretty well-known and seem to get blamed for most of the spider bites out there, even though there's no evidence to support that those lesions are even from spiders.

Here are some North American spiders that get a bad rap without much evidence to support their reputations:

  • Hobo Spiders (Tegenaria agrestis): These guys were introduced into the Northwest United States from Europe in the 1980s. Since then, they've been blamed for instances of necrotic arachnidism, medical jargon for tissue death by spider envenomation. A study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology in 2011 found no medical significance from hobo spider envenomation. 
  • Wolf Spiders (Lycosidae): Originally from Australia, wolf spiders are commonly thought to be very dangerous. On the contrary, case presentations of presumed wolf spider bites in the United States have reported nothing significant. A study of 45 definite wolf spider bites in Australia showed that they “cause minor effects, no more severe than most other spiders.” Wolf spiders didn't cause necrosis- the brown recluse and most of the damage was mechanical, not from venom. 

Other parts of the world have much more dangerous species than the United States. Australia has the redback spider (similar to a black widow), white tail spiders, and deadly funnel-web spiders.

Determining whether a bite is from a spider may be impossible. Patients rarely bring the brown recluse spider to an expert which is required for a proper diagnosis. Black widow bites are often identified only by symptoms of its venom, without any visible local bite.

Local reactions to bites from all kinds of toxic bugs look the same: redness, swelling, itching, and pain. Be concerned if a local reaction continues to get worse for more than 24 hours. Look for redness spreading away from the bite, drainage from the bite, increase in pain, numbness/tingling, or a discoloration around the bite that looks a halo or a bullseye.

You can treat all bug bites the same unless it's a brown recluse or a black widow bite. Some articles on the internet tell you to treat venomous spider bites differently than non-venomous bites, but as you'll see, there's no such thing as a non-venomous spider bite.

Call a doctor or go to the emergency department if your spider bite symptoms persist more than 24 hours or get worse, or if you think it's a brown recluse or black widow.

If you go to the doctor for a reaction, don't start out by telling him or her it's a spider bite—even if you think that's what it is.

Doctors are people, too, and they are susceptible to the power of suggestion just the rest of us. Instead, tell the doctor, “I have this rash (bump, boil, red spot, black spot, etc.

) and I was wondering if you could tell me what it is and what I can do for it.”

There are many home remedies for treating insect and spider bites, but do they help? Most of these have not been shown to provide any real benefit. Meat tenderizer (papain) has even been implicated in allergies and asthma reactions to its protein. Suction syringes that are sold to extract toxins do not work and are a complete waste of money.

Anaphylaxis is always the biggest concern with any type of bug bite. If the victim exhibits any signs of allergic reaction or anaphylaxis shortly after a bug bite, call 911. Other symptoms can include:

  • Hives
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Weakness

Seek medical treatment if symptoms appear in parts of the body away from the bite.


7 Spider Bite Pictures – And How To Treat Symptoms

Identifying Spider Bites (Recluse, Widow, Wolf) + Treatment

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When it comes to spider bites, there's literally one person ever for whom it's been a great experience (what up, Spiderman?)…and he's fictional.

For the rest of us non-superheroes, getting bit by an eight-legged critter is something we'll do anything to avoid. And with good reason: At best, getting bitten by a spider is an icky, slightly painful experience. But, at worst, it can be a life-threatening nightmare.

The good news: the 3,000 or so types of spiders in the U.S., only a handful are known to bite, and of those, only about three are venomous and poisonous spiders and can put your life at risk, according to research published in American Family Physician.

And if you're wondering how long spider bites take to heal? While certainly itchy and annoying, most bites heal up within a week (other than brown recluse and hobo spider bites, which can unfortunately take weeks or much longer to heal, depending on whether you develop an infection).

But if you don't happen to be a spider expert, how do you know if your spider bite is cause for serious concern—or how to make the itching and burning stop? The Instagram photos below (all reviewed by experts) will give you an idea of what different types of spider bites look —and what you should do if you spot one on your bod.

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1 First: How can you be sure it's a spider bite?

Sometimes, spiders leave behind two distinct puncture holes right next to each other—but unless you actually see the spider do the dirty deed, it's hard to know if it was caused by an arachnid or some other biting bug.

In fact, the vast majority of “spider bites” are actually bites from other insects fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes; are a rash from an allergic reaction; or are skin abscesses from an infection, says Justin Arnold, D.O., assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the associate medical director of the Alabama Regional Poison Control Center at Children’s of Alabama.

The symptoms are often similar, too—pain, swelling, itching, and redness—so it's an easy mistake to make. In fact, even spider experts and medical professionals have a hard time differentiating bug bites from spider bites just from how they look, he adds.

“Many people don’t recall an injury or specific bite and hold a common belief that a spider must have bitten them without them knowing,” he says. “In a majority of the cases that we see, a spider was never seen by patient and is not responsible for their infection.”

2 So what happens when a spider bite becomes infected?

While poisonous bites are rare, any bite—spider or otherwise—can turn serious if it becomes infected, says Arnold. There are three main complications that can arise from bites: cellulitis, blisters, and swelling, says Arnold.

When a spider bite turns into cellulitis—a common (although painful) skin infection—a rash begins to spread around the wound, and the skin becomes painful and hot to the touch.

Another common reaction to many spider bites is to get “weeping” blisters at the site (they look puffy and fluid-filled). Small blisters on their own, with no other symptoms, don't necessarily need special care.

But if a blister opens, it becomes at risk for infection, says Arnold, so don't try to pop them! If you think you may have an infection at the bite site, whether from cellulitis or open blisters, it's best to have your doctor take a look.

Swelling is another very common symptom of insect or spider bites. Even though the swelling can get quite pronounced it's not necessarily a problem, as long as it goes down within a few days. But if the swelling doesn't go down, gets significantly worse, or is accompanied by other symptoms, it's time to get medical attention, says Arnold.

3 Jumping Spider And Wolf Spider​ Bites

The two most common spider bites are from house spiders, specifically the jumping spider and the wolf spider. While it can be scary to be bitten by any spider, these bites normally aren't any more painful than a bee sting and shouldn't cause problems beyond some redness, swelling, and itching, Arnold says.

Treat these at home by washing the site with soap and water, using cold compresses, and taking an ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling, he adds.


4 Black Widow Spider Bites

Of all of the spiders, black widows pose the greatest health threat to Americans, according to Rick Vetter, Ph.D., a spider expert in the department of entomology at the University of California, Riverside. Their bite is extremely painful and, while an antivenin (a.k.a. anti-venom) exists now, before it was discovered, about 5 percent of bitten people died.

Think you can ID a black widow bite on sight? Not so fast: The actual bite looks a lot any other spider bite. However, they do tend to become more swollen and red than your general household spider bite, he says.

Black widow spiders are tough to identify, as well. Only female black widows have the characteristic red hourglass-shaped markings on their backs. Male and immature black widows have tan and white stripes, Vetter says.

Because these types of bites are so serious, if you strongly suspect you were bitten by a black widow or you develop muscle cramping, abdominal and chest pain, high blood pressure, a racing heart, and/or vomiting within two hours of a bite, go to the ER immediately, Arnold says.

5 Brown Recluse Spider Bites

The brown recluse (also known as the fiddleback spider or violin spider) is one of the most venomous spiders in America, but they are limited to very specific geographic regions—if you don't live in one of these places, it's highly unly you need to worry about this type of bite, Vetter says. (Check out this map to see if you're in the danger zone.)

And despite what you may have heard, even where brown recluses are present, they rarely bite, he adds. To identify a brown recluse, look for six eyes arranged in pairs. (Although getting close enough to see the eye pattern on a spider sounds, frankly, terrifying.)

Brown recluse bites do happen though, and when they do, they are often described by “sharp burning pain,” Arnold explains. Within several hours, the bite area becomes discolored and forms an ulcer that can takes several weeks to heal. In addition to the wound, individuals can also develop fevers, muscle aches, and in rare cases, severe anemia as a result of the venom.

Start by treating any bite at home with cold compresses and an antibiotic cream, but if you start to show severe symptoms, including a lot of swelling, increased pain, fever, spreading rash or other sign of infection, get medical attention immediately, he adds. There isn't an antivenin, but they can treat the symptoms and manage the infection.

6 Hobo Spider Bites

The hobo spider is actually a pretty common venomous house spider in the U.S., but despite some scary media reports, they're not aggressive and will only bite if provoked, according to the U.S. Forest Service. In addition, about half of hobo spider bites are “dry,” meaning they contain no venom, the service adds.

If you do receive a venomous bite, within a few hours it will become red and hard, similar to a mosquito bite, and within a day or two will develop blisters. After the blisters open, a scab typically forms along with a rash that often looks a target or bull's eye.

Because these wounds can become necrotic (as in, infected to the point they start killing surrounding tissue) and can last for years in some cases, you should see a doctor immediately, Arnold says. There isn't an antivenin but they can treat the symptoms and manage any infection with antibiotics.

Hobo spiders can be hard to identify, according to the Forest Service. They are large and often have chevron-type markings on their backs, but these won't be visible on darker-skinned adult spiders, which is why it's important to get any bite checked out if it starts to show signs of infection or you see a target forming on your skin, Arnold says.

7 Tarantula Bites

Tarantulas may look big and scary, but most of the North American varieties are pretty chill. And even while the bite itself can be painful, the venom is fairly benign and ly won't cause long-term issues, Arnold says. most spider bites, tarantula bites can cause some swelling, itching, and irritation.

However, he adds, tarantulas also have the ability to flick hairs off of their body and into your skin, which can be very irritating and painful. And some people are allergic to tarantula venom, which can make the bite even more inflamed, according to the National Institutes of Medicine.

Most of the time, it's fine to try treating these at home by washing the site, applying ice, and taking ibuprofen, he says. But if you find yourself having a more extreme reaction, including symptoms rapid heart rate or difficulty breathing, get to the emergency room.

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Identification and Treatment Guide

Identifying Spider Bites (Recluse, Widow, Wolf) + Treatment

A wolf spider bite is considered by many as a highly dangerous and painful experience. Due to its looks and habits, the wolf spider has earned a reputation of being a vicious predator and is even often mistaken for a tarantula.

Though they should be taken seriously, wolf spider bites are not always as fearful as their reputation.

It is therefore important to know some basic facts about the wolf spider, as well as knowing how to identify a wolf spider bite and what treatment it requires.

What Does a Wolf Spider Look ?

To identify a wolf spider bite, it goes without saying that it is helpful to know what a wolf spider looks . The wolf spider is often mistaken for a tarantula because it is similar in appearance.

Wolf spiders are also mistaken for nursery web spiders, but wolf spiders do not spin webs and their bodies are more robust than nursery web spiders, which are generally thin with pointed rear ends.

A wolf spider’s best identifying characteristic is its number and arrangement of eyes. A wolf spider has 8 eyes arranged in 3 rows. There are 4 small ones on the bottom row, 2 large very prominent ones on the middle row and 2 medium ones on top of the head.

The 2 biggest eyes also glow in the dark. Also useful for identification purposes is the fact that a female wolf spider will carry its egg sac or baby wolf spiders on its back.

The most prominent feature and characteristic to use for wolf spider identification, however, is the eyes.

Identification and Symptoms of a Wolf Spider Bite

The best way to identify a wolf spider bite is of course to get a good look at the spider that did the biting, but if that is not possible, or if the bite happened in a dark place, then the following table might be of help when it comes to identifying a wolf spider bite:

Wolf Spider Bite AppearanceWolf Spider Bite SymptomsWolf Spider Bite ToxicityWolf Spider Bite Additional Information
After being bitten, fang marks and tearing of the skin might be present, particularly if a large wolf spider is the culprit. Often, however, there is simply redness and swelling in the area.The number one sign of being bitten by a wolf spider is generally the pain that comes with it. The pain may last for up to 10 days together with swelling in the surrounding area, and swelling of the lymph glands. In some cases, the skin around the area of the bite may darken in color.A bite from a wolf spider is venomous but is not considered to be fatal. They are not spider bites from the dangerous black widow, hobo, and brown recluse spider in terms of the damage and harm presented to humans.In some severe cases, the bite can become infected and this can lead to complications. To prevent this from occurring, proper care and treatment of wolf spider bites must be implemented.

First Aid and Treatment

After identifying wolf spider bites symptoms, proper care and treatment must be carried out to prevent complications from the spider bite.

5 Steps for Treatment

1. all wounds, bites from wolf spiders must be washed and cleaned. An antibiotic ointment may be applied to kill bacteria which may have been introduced by the wolf spider through its bite.2.

Place a cool or cold towel over the area to minimize pain and swelling as well as the spread of the venom.3. Monitor the progress of symptoms and note any complications.4.

In the case of high fever and development of other symptoms other than those in the table above, contact your physician as soon as possible.

5. Take note of any tissue death or development of a lesion on the area around the bite. It might be possible that the spider has been misidentified. If so, seek immediate medical attention .

How and Where Does It Happen?

Usually, wolf spiders are not seen inside homes, except in autumn and winter when they are seeking warmer places to shelter. They are active hunters and do not spin webs to catch prey.

They stalk their prey or pounce on it using their very fast reflexes and agility.

This, of course, adds to the fear-inducing false information that circulates about them, with many people believing they deliberately try to bite humans.

A wolf spider bite usually happens because of ignorance on the part of the human, and fear on the part of the spider. Contrary to popular urban legends, a wolf spider does not set out to bite humans. However, when a wolf spider is afraid or startled, or feels that it is threatened, it will bite without hesitation.

Bites of Wisdom

A wolf spider bite is certainly painful and might be a traumatic experience for the individual. However, a wolf spider bite looks much scarier than it really is, just the spider which caused it. If you see a wolf spider, try and avoid disturbing it to avoid being bitten in the first place.

Although wolf spider bites are generally not as dangerous as the bites of the hobo, the black widow or the fiddleback spider, it is still better to err on the side of caution.

Being knowledgeable about the wolf spider bite and knowing how to identify and treat it is the best thing you can do to be prepared in the event of a bite from a wolf spider.



Spider Bites: Symptoms, Signs & Spider Bite Treatment

Identifying Spider Bites (Recluse, Widow, Wolf) + Treatment

November 5, 2012

Harry Potter's friend, Ron Weasley, is probably in good company when he admits he hates spiders. But how much of spiders' negative notoriety is really just a bad rap?

In truth, spiders are not intentionally harmful to humans. Most spider bites occur when humans accidentally trap or brush up against a spider and receive a defensive bite.

On rare occasions, spiders may have a serious lapse in judgment and bite a human finger (or other body part) mistaking it for a caterpillar or other such prey.

Even then, most spiders are too small and not capable of breaking the skin with their fangs, or their venom too weak to be dangerous to humans. Simply put – most spider bites are accidental, harmless and require no specific treatment.

Still, that is not enough to stop spiders from having a bad reputation. It is common for any unexplained skin irritation to be called a “spider bite.

” In fact, most skin lesions and bite symptoms that are attributed to spiders are rarely actually due to a spider bite.

Research has shown that 80 percent of presumed spider bites are actually bites from other insects, or due to skin infections such as MRSA (a resistant staph infection).

Yet, occasionally, a spider bite will cause real harm. Spider bites may cause injury by three mechanisms. First, especially with larger spiders, the bite itself may be painful and cause injury. However, far more concerning is the spider's venom, which can include necrotic agents or neurotoxins. Spider bites rarely transmit infectious diseases.

Most spider bites are less painful than a bee sting. Pain from non-venomous spider bites typically lasts for five to 60 minutes while pain from venomous spider bites frequently lasts for longer than 24 hours. The rate of a bacterial infection due to a spider bite is low (less than one percent). 

The two spiders of greatest concern in the United States are the brown recluse and the black widow spiders, most commonly found in southern states. Both species prefer warm climates and dark, dry places. Typically, these are timid, non-aggressive spiders, often found in dry, littered, undisturbed areas such as closets, woodpiles and under sinks.

Black widow spiders

Black widow spiders can be found throughout North America, but are most common in the southern and western areas of the United States. Male widows, most spider species, are much smaller and generally less dangerous than the females.

Widows tend to be non-aggressive, but this spider will bite if the web is disturbed and if it feels threatened. The more dangerous female is a dark colored spider and with a red hourglass marking on its belly. The bite feels a pinprick, and at first may go unnoticed or seem rather minor.

Early on there may be slight swelling and faint red marks. Within a few hours, though, intense pain and stiffness begin. Other signs and spider bite symptoms include: chills, fever, muscle cramps, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and severe abdominal pain.

Typically, black widow bites are less common, but more severe than brown recluse bites. That said, no one in the United States has died from a black widow spider bite in more than 10 years.

Brown recluse spiders

The brown recluse spider, also known as the violin spider, is most commonly found in the south-central, mid-western and southern states of the United States.

Most encounters with this spider occur from moving boxes or rooting about in closets, attics, garages or under beds where they may have nested. These spiders are brown in color with a characteristic dark violin-shaped (or fiddle-shaped) marking on its head.

Whereas most spiders have eight eyes, brown recluses have six equal-sized eyes. The bite produces a mild stinging, followed by local redness and intense pain within eight hours. A fluid-filled blister forms at the site and then sloughs off to leave a deep, enlarging ulcer.

Systemic (or generalized) reactions from a brown recluse spider bite vary from having spider bite symptoms a mild fever and rash to nausea and listlessness.

Generally, brown recluse spider bites are reported much more frequently than black widow bites, but while the brown recluse bite may cause very significant local skin reactions, it is much more unusual for these spider bites to cause generalized symptoms. Unfortunately, brown recluses are almost communal and can be sometimes be found in great numbers.

What To Do About Spider Bites

  • If you suspect a spider has bitten you, try to bring it with you to the doctor so they can determine the best course of treatment the species.
  • Clean the site of the spider bite well with soap and water.
  • Apply a cool compress over the spider bite location (using a cloth dampened with cold water or filled with ice).
  • If you suspect the bite is from a black widow or brown recluse spider, and the bite is on an extremity, elevate it.
  • Consider tying a snug bandage above the bite and elevate the limb to help slow or halt the venom's spread. Ensure that the bandage is not so tight that it cuts off circulation in your arm or leg.
  • Adults can take aspirin or acetaminophen and antihistamines to relieve minor signs and spider bite symptoms (but use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers).
  • Seek medical attention for any severe spider bite symptoms and signs, or if they continue to worsen for more than 24 hours.

When To Worry about Spider Bite Symptoms

If a local reaction continues to get worse for more than 24 hours, it may be time to seek medical attention. Look for redness spreading away from the bite, drainage from the bite, increase in pain, numbness/tingling, or a discoloration around the bite that looks a halo or bull's-eye.

If generalized spider bite symptoms set in, be concerned.

In very rare cases, there have been reports of spider bites (by spiders considered otherwise harmless) causing allergic reactions – including anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening condition (much may result from the sting of a bee, or wasp in a highly allergic person).

For More Information

Contact a pest professional if you think you may be dealing with a spider infestation. To learn more about different types of spiders and the threats they pose to our health, check out our spider Pest Guide section or watch this Health Checks video on spider bites.