Overview

All spiders can bite humans. It’s their natural response to perceived danger. However, certain spiders pose more dangers than others, depending on their venom.

Wolf spiders (Lycosa) aren’t deadly to humans, but they can still bite and cause uncomfortable symptoms. These spiders are found across the United States.

A wolf spider bite isn’t usually a cause for significant concern because they’re not poisonous to humans. If your symptoms worsen, call your doctor. You may be more susceptible to reactions from spider bites and require extra care. This could be a sign that what you thought was a wolf spider bite may actually be from another type of spider.

Identifying characteristics of a wolf spider

A wolf spider is large and hairy. They have prominent eyes that shine in light. They range between a 1/2 inch to 2 inches long. Wolf spiders are usually gray with brown to dark gray markings.

Sometimes the wolf spider is mistaken for a brown recluse spider because of its size and color. The recluse spider, however, is mostly brown, and has a darker marking on the back of its head that’s shaped like a violin.

Wolf spiders don’t spin webs to catch their prey. Instead, they hunt food on their own. They also carry eggs on the bottom portions of their bodies.

You may find them more often during the fall months when it’s too cold to hunt for food at night. Some of their favorite hiding places include closets, basements, and garages. A wolf spider may also call a houseplant home.

These hairy arachnids usually hide from people.

What does a wolf spider and its bite look like?

What are the symptoms of a wolf spider bite?

Wolf spiders don’t bite people often. Contacting a wolf spider by mistake could result in a bite, though.

Wolf spider bites look like other bug bites. You may notice a red bump that’s also itchy and swollen. It usually goes away within a few days. Unless you actually see the wolf spider bite you, it’s usually difficult to determine what bit you.

Some people may have allergic reactions from spider bites. You may need immediate medical attention if you have:

  • a red line that extends from the bite, which is also an early sign of a blood infection
  • a bump that increases in size and looks like hives
  • swelling in the face, especially around the mouth
  • breathing difficulties
  • dizziness or unconsciousness

The only poisonous spider bites in the United States are from brown recluse and black widow spiders.

If you’re bitten by a brown recluse spider, you’ll have pain that increases exponentially within eight hours of the encounter. The red bite will slowly turn into a purplish ulcer that can also kill the surrounding skin. You’ll also experience flu-like symptoms, such as fever and chills.

A black widow spider bite may cause extreme pain, abdominal discomfort, and sweating. A wolf spider bite doesn’t cause any of these symptoms.

How are these bites treated?

Treating a wolf spider bite is much like the measures you’d take for any insect bite. First, you should gently clean the bite with warm soap and water. Place a bandage over the bite to prevent infection.

If the bite becomes extremely itchy and uncomfortable, you can take a quick-acting antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl). This medication can cause drowsiness.

How to avoid wolf spiders and prevent bites

Wolf spiders are shy and introverted, so encounters are relatively rare. They’re also on the move, unlike other spiders that stay more stagnant in their webs.

You can avoid wolf spiders by making sure you keep your home free of clutter, especially in darker rooms where these spiders are most likely to hide. You’ll also want to wear pants and long sleeves when going outdoors. This is especially practical at night when wolf spiders are most likely hunting.

What’s the outlook?

Wolf spider bites aren’t deadly. They usually heal on their own within a few days. If your bite gets worse, or if it’s accompanied by unusual symptoms, see your doctor right away.

If you think you might’ve been bitten by a poisonous spider, seek medical attention.