Dr. Suresh Kumar lives in India and enjoys writing about medical topics.
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
|Wolf Spider||Black Widow||Brown Recluse|
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.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Red on December 10, 2017:
I had about 4-5 nests in my basement, not sure what spider it was because they nested in groups, but also fought each other, just assumed they were wolf spiders. Anyways we killed at least a hundred, and found many more dead already from their fights. We tore down the dry wall and covered the floors and surrounding walls with poison, had to use a shop vac to clean up all the dead bodies. Still finding many scamper around, but now since it’s winter the numbers are dwindling to about 2, still hunting them down. Not sure what this spider is, please help indetify, they nest in groups, and fight other nests
Hiliana Avila on October 28, 2017:
I'm so scared it feels like I have a wolf bite I have all the symptoms but it looks like I have a red back spider bite
wolfman on October 06, 2017:
I found after being continually bit that if I bit them back they would tell the others and soon they stayed clear from me.
Tom W. on July 30, 2017:
I have Wolf Spiders in my home. They live under the couch and under my bed. They are very aggressive and bite me almost everyday, usually on my right ear while I am sleeping. I have killed several with Spider and Scorpion insecticide spray. It has taken me years to kill several and I still am getting bit at night and during the day if I fall asleep. I have been able to wake up when bitten and identified them by their very large eyes. The Spiders are very fast runners and agile jumpers. Their back legs are spring loaded and when they jump it is almost impossible to find them unless you just happen to be looking in the direction in where they land. They are very aggressive and will stand up on the back legs if they are threatened in what looks like an attempt to strike at you. I know that my cats are terrified of them and will cry when they see them. I have killed two Black Wolf Spiders that were about a half inch in diameter and one that is over an inch in diameter (body only does not include legs). I woke up the other day and found a large one walking toward my head. As soon as it saw me looking at it, it backed up and kept backing up until it fell off of the arm of the couch. I heard it hit the floor with a thud but I could not find it to dispatch it to hell. I have thoughts of catching this one alive, putting it in a jar, keeping it alive and torchering it everyday for the next two years as payback. Does anyone have a true and proven way to kill them with certain accuracy (without the use of dynamite)? As I said I have used the Spider and Scorpion spray, but it is a hit and a miss. There must be something that works better, faster and quicker. Burning my house down is not an option, yet, but I am getting desperate from my lack of sleep. If you can contact me with your advise at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks in advance.
@heh.meme on July 20, 2017:
Spiders arent even venomous lol ur all stupid for making this spiders dont even bite hahaha imjust so shook everyone thinks this is real XD like spiders fangs arent sharp enough LOL
Timorhy on July 12, 2017:
I just pulled the lump of white stuff out! What should I do with the small black hole?
No name on July 04, 2017:
Christian Blackburn: I'm no professional but I've seen videos for bites and some were black widow and every other spider but every time that white stuff was pulled out. So just get some tweezers and are fully pull it out.
Christian Blackburn on June 26, 2017:
Hopefully someone can answer my question, I'm pretty sure I got bit by a wolf spider, in the center of the lump I've developed a white dot,like the bite is coming to a head. But what do I do for it??? Do I squeeze it or leave it?
MeeB333 on June 20, 2017:
Martin Mocha: You seem to be quite knowledgeable about arachnids... Do you happen to know anything about disease transmission from spider bites, like with Bartonella &/or Borrelia(Lyme Disease)?
Michelle on June 01, 2017:
I think it was a wolf spider that bite me it was inside my shirt and bite i think three timed im nauseated and it hurts is it common for them to bite more than once
BB Jonah43 on May 26, 2017:
In response to Martin Mocha. You're obviously very educated when it comes to arachnids. As far as politics...not so much!
JEFF on May 06, 2017:
I have found multiple dead wolf spiders in my house and it worries me what should i do
martin mocha....does whatever a spider can.........or can't:-) on December 22, 2016:
FYI all you morons, a spider bite is NOT poisonous, it is VENOMOUS!!!! Please use correct terminology unless of course, U voted for Trump, then all bets are off.
But back to the topic at hand, spiders, snakes, or any creature that "injects" venom IS venomous. Venom is injected....poison is ingested or absorbed, capish?
They Lycosides, AKA wolf spiders, are generally non lethal as the article states, certainly not in the class of Phoneutria, Atrax, Latrodectus or Loxosceles, however; variable factors such as the victims immune system state, age, location of bite, allergies or general sensitivities to arachnid venom can have a PROFOUND effect which can be rarely but potentially fatal. Point being, avoid a spider bite at any cost, you NEVER know for sure what the end result will be
Sleepingduringbite9-16 on September 19, 2016:
I was bit by a wolf spider several days ago. I was asleep by have been bitten by this species before so am aware of symptoms. It is almost identical to the photo. It is still itching and I'm not feeling well, headache, nausea and fatigue. No big deal, but it's tough to prevent a spider bite when one is asleep.
Thias on September 08, 2016:
I was bitten three times on the stomach last night and tonight when grabbing a towel off my floor I found a massive (okay about an inch by half an inch) spider on it. I couldn't identify it, I can't decide if it was a grass spider (I saw no spinnerets) or a new breed of wolf spider. We usually have the squat fluffy wolf spiders here, but this guy was long and skinny. I know it was not a recluse, I'm a hypochondriac so my mother made me memorize the appearance of th venomous spiders as a child so I'd stop panicking over every spider or bite. I'm not too concerned over the bite just yet, but I'm not at all comfortable with spiders that size in your home (and biting my stomach while I sleep, thank you very much)
Judy on August 26, 2016:
We have killed 5 of them so far this month inside my home. Time to bomb.
martin mocha on August 23, 2016:
I was so shocked by some of the incredibly ignorant comments I stumbled across while reading various Spider bite articles I felt I had to respond to the most moronic statement from somebody calling themselves "Mountain Lion" that "no spider can kill a human” which is tantamount to stating no human has ever killed an animal or that the Sea Wasp jelly fish, Chironex Fleckeri, is as harmless as a bowl of jello:-)
From Latrodectus (Black Widows) to Phoneutria (Brazilian Wandering spiders) to Atrax robustus (Sydney Funnel Web), Loxosceles and so forth, there is ample, readily available documentation detailing scores of human fatalities attributable to various species over the decades as mentioned above. Various Phoneutria sp. for instance, are considered to possess the most virulent spider neurotoxin yet measured in a lab and fortunately for human victims, the Phoneutria spiders (mainly P. fera and P. nigriventer) are very careful with how much venom they inject unlike the primitive Mygalomorph spiders i.e., the Sydney Funnel web and still, there have been documented human fatalities from the Phoneutria bite (see Wolfgang Bucheral’s studies in his book "Venomous Animals and their Venoms Vol. III”) among the more notable.
If spiders like Phoneutria injected a full load per every chance encounter with humans, their bite could result in a possible fatality every time if antivenin was not available. Lastly, as per some of the “chats” and internet comments I have read that blabber on touting how “harmless” most North American spiders are, I say NEVER assume a spider is "harmless" which is one of the most absurd fallacies promoted by clueless morons. For instance, Dolomedes tenebrosus, which is abundant in my area of New Hampshire, certainly isn't known to possess a venom toxic enough to cause substantial damage to humans, however; the Dolomedes or Lycosides (Wolf spiders) can not only inflict a painful bite, but depending on a persons immune system, possible allergies and where the bite occurs, almost anything is possible.
I know a roof contractor who suffered a horrendous bite reaction from a large Dolomedes tenebrosus that bit him while he was nailing in shingles on a roof job. He told me he accidentally trapped the spider and it bit him twice on his index finger than ran off. Not only did he suffer immediate intense pain due to the mechanical laceration from its chelicerae, within a few hours, the local bite area developed into a severe necrotic lesion accompanied by systemic effects such as nausea and chills. Even taking into consideration, this man might have had either a compromised immune system or obscure allergy/sensitivity to arachnid venom, never the less, it strikingly illustrates the potential danger of any spider bite.
Rule of thumb, to anyone out there on the internet is, NEVER allow yourself to be bitten by any spider period, its simple common sense unless somebody is a masochist. The only thing more reckless would be to vote for Donald Trump:-)
martin mocha on August 21, 2016:
Wolf spider bites DO contain vemon and any article that suggests otherwise has failed the Rhesus Monkey IQ test. ALL spiders of the labidognatha (true spiders) and Mygalomorph sub orders (trantulas etc.) inject venom in various doses and consist of varying levels of toxicity. The wolf spiders (formerly called the Lycosides) certainly DO INJECT VENOM as do all their relatives including the Ctenids, Dolomedes, Argiops, jumping spiders and sheet web "funnel" spiders, Loxosceles (brown recluse) plus the Theradids which include the infamous black widows etc..
Wolf spiders are not considered "dangerous" or lethal as compared to Latrodectus (black widows) or the much feared Ctenids of South America called Phoneutria, both P. fera and P. nigriventer, both possessing what labs have measured as the most toxic spider venom but luckily for its victims, Phoneutrias normally refrain from injecting a full load unlike the dangerous Sydney Funnel Web (Mygalomorph) called Atrax robustus. Its true that excluding the Brown Recluse and Latrodectus, 98% of most North American spider bites will not create systemic reactions not counting allergic reactions or sensitivities to possible bacterial or other agents contained in the venom. The best possible rule of thumb is.....respect ALL spiders and avoid getting bitten and all costs!:-)
Adam on July 11, 2016:
I went on a camping tent and woke up to a giant wolf spider on the wall of the tent about a foot from my face
Kenzie on January 30, 2016:
My brother got bite by some thing it red and it a tryangle and to red dot what is it
kells on August 13, 2015:
I had got bitten by one on the side of my head and i hav been very tired and lethargic. i have no appetite. i try ti drink water but i can't consume to much.. I am concerned.
marie thomas on July 13, 2015:
I was spraying trees and a mom with babies got into my sweater by running down my arms. I suffered numerous bites (30-50) Chills, intense iching and swollen areas all over under arms, on chest areas.
Used an antibiotic but not helpful. Ice helped! So far, three days of misery.
It was a Wofspider. I was lucky because it wasn't a Recluse/Widow. M Thomas.
Lance on February 14, 2015:
It says wolf spiders are mainly is South America and Australia but I just had one clime out of a shirt I was about to put on and I live in texas
Person on September 30, 2014:
I think ive been biten by one
Florida on July 27, 2014:
I've been bitten twice in the last two weeks. It doesn't hurt one bit.
javen on July 21, 2014:
got a wolf spider bite from a camping trip
Hailee lappen on July 06, 2014:
Wow that hurts to look at it
Candace Raburn on January 27, 2014:
went to the circus & had to leave due to heart palpatations, dizziness, & nausea.
Ronnie on December 05, 2013:
They are if they are poisonous. But if they are jumping spiders they are cool
raul on November 25, 2013:
spiders are not even scary lol