Although most people enjoy getting close to their pets, wildlife is best left alone. Interacting with wild animals like wolf spiders and snakes comes with a risk, from scratches and bites to contracting an animal-borne disease.
One of the most common concerns about human-wildlife interactions is what to do if you get bitten by an animal. Let’s find out everything about wolf spider bite and treatment.
What Is a Wolf Spider?
Wolf spiders are large and hairy members of the Lycosidae family. There are more than 2,800 species of wolf spiders. Most of them vary in appearance but share several common features. For instance, most species are nocturnal predators.
Wolf spiders rely on their excellent vision to locate prey and avoid predators and depend on their ability to camouflage for hunting and protection. Wolf spiders don’t spin webs but prefer chasing prey over short distances or ambushing it near the mouth of a burrow.
They are typically black, brown, or gray with light orange or tan stripes along their bodies and radiating out from the center of the back. They range in body size between 0.4 and 1.38 inches (10 and 35 mm).
Wolf spiders are considered beneficial bugs since they play an important role in controlling the population of insects and other pests.
Are Wolf Spiders Dangerous?
Wolf spiders don’t bite unless continually provoked or cornered. They are quite timid creatures that prefer escaping from humans instead of attacking. In addition, their bites are not considered dangerous to humans, so don’t panic if you’re bitten by one. However, it’s possible to have an allergic reaction to wolf spider venom. They have fangs that can cause swelling and itching.
The venom composition of wolf spiders remains unknown, and they have been implicated in necrotic arachnidism without acceptably documented verifications. A few studies show that a wolf spider’s venom lacks cutaneous necrosis. One of the main reasons there has been limited research on wolf spider venom is the infrequent nature of exposure to wolf spider bites.
Nevertheless, reports from most parts of the world show that wolf spider bites cause skin damage. For example, a well-documented case of a 20-year-old man victim of a wolf spider bite confirmed the development of cutaneous erythema with ulceration following the bite.
In a few cases, a wolf spider bite can cause the most extreme allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. This could be potentially life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. For this reason, it’s important to observe the victim of a wolf spider bite for a few hours in case of signs of allergic reactions.
What Are the Symptoms of a Wolf Spider Bite?
Wolf spider bites are very similar to other bug bites. Signs and symptoms vary across individuals, but many people usually notice a red bump that appears swollen and itchy. In most cases, you may not be able to determine what bit you unless you saw the wolf spider biting you.
If any of the following symptoms follow the bite, seek immediate medical care:
- Headache or feeling dizzy
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty breathing
- Cramping or having a tight muscle around the bitten area
- Weakness or uncontrollable shaking
- A bump that keeps increasing in size
- A red line that extends from the bite
Get medical help right away if the symptoms do not improve.
How To Manage and Treat Wolf Spider Bites
Take the following measures to lessen the discomfort if a wolf spider bites you:
- Wash the bite area using soap and warm water.
- Apply an ice pack or cold compress on the wound to reduce swelling and pain.
- Take anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling. Antihistamines may also help alleviate itchiness.
- Avoid scratching the bite, as it may increase the risk of infection.
- Continue observing the wound for a few hours for any sign of anaphylactic or allergic reaction.
Contact your doctor if you notice any warning signs of anaphylaxis, such as difficulty breathing, tongue swelling, and constant wound swelling. Your doctor may:
- Prescribe antibiotics if secondary infections are suspected.
- Prescribe stronger antihistamines to alleviate itchiness.
- In rare cases, the doctor may recommend surgery if the wound is deep with a prolonged severe infection that continually worsens despite treatment.
- Recommend tetanus vaccination for added protection.
Controlling Wolf Spiders
According to pest control experts at Pest Guide, wolf spiders are typically not aggressive. This means they are only likely to bite if they are trapped against your skin or feel threatened. So the best way to prevent a wolf spider bite is to avoid handling it.
If leaving them be and staying out of their site as much as possible is not an option, then you may need to figure out how to eliminate wolf spiders from your property.
Taking simple precautions can help prevent wolf spider bites, especially in areas best known to harbor the largest population of wolf spiders: clear clutter and junk around your home to eliminate hiding places. Avoid stacking firewood behind the house, and seal all cracks and crevices around pipes, the attic, and many other places. Consider removing furniture slipcovers and long draperies that reach the floor since they may conceal wolf spiders.
Take the following measures to help control wolf spider activity inside your home:
- Vacuum your house for at least one week daily.
- Always ensure that all screens and weather-stripping elements around windows and doors are secure.
- Use sealed plastic storage containers to keep away wolf spiders.
- Use sticky traps to monitor wolf spider populations inside buildings.
Never crush a wolf spider; given how fast they are, you can get bitten if you miss it.