The wolf spider is known to be one of the dangerous species of spider since its bite can be a very painful experience. Due to its habits and looks, it has earned a name for itself as a vicious predator. The wolf spider is often mistaken for a tarantula. However, both of these spiders should be taken seriously. Wolf spiders are commonly found in the regions of Australia and Arizona. They are called as “wolf spiders” because of their hunting nature. Their other names include “hunting spider” and “ground spider”.
Wolf spiders are rarely seen at home, unlike other spiders. However, during the winter season, they tend to seek for warmer places for shelter. Wolf spiders are known to be active hunters and do not spin webs for catching their prey. They use their fast reflexes and agility instead. They usually stalk their prey and pounce on it. In most cases, a wolf spider bite tends to happen due to ignorance on the part of humans along with the fear of the spider. Wolf spiders never set out to bite humans. They only bite without hesitation if they are startled or feel threatened.
Before knowing whether it is a wolf spider bite, it is important to know what a wolf spider looks like. As mentioned earlier, it is often mistaken as a tarantula since they both have similar features. Sometimes, wolf spiders are mistaken as nursery web spiders. However, it is important to note that wolf spiders do not spin webs, unlike most spiders. Also, the body of the wolf spider is more robust as compared to the nursery web spider. A wolf spider has stripes on its backs and it is about two inches long. It is brown or gray in color and is also hairy.
One of the best characteristics when it comes to the appearance of the wolf spider is the number of its eyes and its arrangement. A wolf spider, unlike other spiders, has eight eyes. These eyes are arranged in three rows wherein there are four small ones on the bottom row. The two large looking eyes are in the middle row. Lastly, the spider's two middle-sized eyes are on top of its head. The two large eyes in the middle row also glow in the dark.
Another identifying factor of a wolf spider is that when it comes to female wolf spiders, they always carry their sac of eggs or baby wolf spiders on their back wherever they go. However, out of all these characteristics, the most noticeable characteristic of a wolf spider is its eyes.
Wolf Spider Bite Identification and Symptoms
One of the best ways to identify a spider bite is to first recognize the spider that did the biting. However, in certain cases, one cannot easily identify the spider, especially when the bite happened in a dark place. Certain symptoms can be very helpful when it comes to identifying a spider bite.
- Appearance: Once the wolf spider has bitten, there would be an appearance of fang marks or tearing of the skin, especially if it is one of the larger ones in the species. In some cases, there can be simple redness and swelling of the affected area of the skin.
- Symptoms: The first sign of a wolf spider bite would be the pain that comes along with the bite. This pain tends to last for at least ten days after the bite. It would also be accompanied by swelling around the affected area. The lymph glands would look swollen. In certain cases, the area surrounding the affected site would look darker in color. Some people can also experience nausea, vomiting, or dizziness. The bite from a wolf spider is often said to be venomous but not fatal. In certain rare cases, a wolf spider bite becomes infected and leads to complications. Hence, to prevent such occurrence, one should take proper care and treatment on the site of the bite.
Below are certain steps to be carried out for treating a wolf spider bite:
- Similar to other types of wound, a wolf spider bite must be washed and cleaned properly.
- Apply an antibiotic cream or ointment so that any signs of infection on the wound would be prevented. Bacteria can be introduced by the wolf spider through its bite.
- Once the bite wound is washed and cleaned, place a cool towel or washcloth over the affected area to minimize the pain, swelling, and spread of the venom. You can also use ice for a therapeutic effect.
- Make sure to monitor the progress of the symptoms such as pain, swelling, or changes in skin color. In some cases, an individual can also develop a fever. If complications arise, then immediately seek medical attention.
- If the pain seems to increase, then the individual can take acetaminophen. An NSAID such as aspirin can be taken to reduce the swelling. However, it is still better to check with the doctor before going ahead with the medications.
Over-the-counter painkillers such as Advil or Tylenol can be given for pain relief from the spider bite. Oral antihistamines such as Benadryl can also be given. In some cases, instead of Benadryl, the doctor can also recommend other antihistamines such as Allegra (fexofenadine), Zyrtec (cetirizine), or Claritin (loratadine). If the wolf spider bite becomes infected and leads to certain complications, then the doctor will accordingly provide antibiotic treatment. There can be a few cases wherein the doctor can also go for an antivenom injection as part of the treatment.
Below are some of the remedies that can be done to treat a wolf spider bite. Most of these remedies are readily available at home.
- Ice Compress: After cleaning the wound with warm water and mild or antibacterial soap, you would then need to apply an ice bag to the affected area so that it can reduce the pain and swelling. It should be done for ten minutes. The icing process should be done several times a day. It is important to do an ice compress several times within 24 hours after the bite. Ice is a natural treatment for any kind of bite since it can help suppress the symptoms that come along with the bite.
- Baking Soda Paste: This is one of the easiest and most cost-effective methods of wolf spider bite treatment. Baking soda is commonly available in the kitchen and this product truly has a lot of uses, wherein spider bite treatment is also part of its use. You would need to make a paste of water and baking soda and apply it for several times a day. This would help improve the symptoms of the wolf spider bite.
- Avoid Scratching: Scratching the affected area can only worsen the condition. Hence, one should avoid scratching the bitten area. Scratching can only lead to the area becoming itchier, which also increases the risk of infection since bacteria left from the wolf spider bite can further enter the wound. For these reasons, resist the urge to scratch so that wound healing could quickly take place.
- Lavender Oil: Lavender is also used as an essential oil and is one of the perfect choices for a wolf spider bite. Using this oil can help soothe the pain caused by the wolf spider bite along with reducing the redness and inflammation at the affected site. It also helps speed up the healing process. One can simply combine a few drops of lavender oil along with coconut oil and apply it directly on the bite area using a cotton ball. You can also apply the oil without any other oil mixture if it works fine that way.
- Aloe Vera: Aloe vera has time and again come to the rescue for any type of skin-related issues. Aloe vera has always been known for its effectiveness in soothing skin-related inflammation and itchiness. It contains vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and enzymes. You can also opt for an aloe vera gel instead of a fresh aloe vera leaf. Applying a fresh aloe vera leaf on the affected region is always good and recommended. If one is going for the aloe vera gel, which is readily available in stores, look for the one that has the highest aloe vera content and lesser other ingredients without preservatives. One can apply aloe vera several times a day on the affected area until the symptoms improve.
- Aspirin: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin are a very common and conventional medication for spider bites. But instead of swallowing the pill and risking the chance of having any kind of side effects, one can use it externally. Make sure that it is in the simplest and purest form. Place one or two tablets into the water to make a paste out of it. Similar to the baking soda process, you can apply the paste directly on the bitten area and leave it there for one or two hours before rinsing it off. This can be done one or two times a day until the symptoms improve. Certain studies say that aspirin helps in neutralizing the effects of the venom and also help in reducing the inflammation, which comes along with the bite.
- Elevation: Elevation would really help when it comes to big spider bites. Elevation can help decrease the pain and swelling of the bitten area. If one has a wolf spider bite on the arm or leg, then one would need to elevate that part of the body. Elevation is known to be very helpful in such painful cases.
- Witch Hazel: Witch hazel is well-known for its astringent, antioxidant, and skin-healing properties. For any kind of bites, the astringent property and the soothing effects of the witch hazel makes it an awesome treatment option. Apply witch hazel liquid to the bitten area a few times a day to reduce swelling, itchiness, and inflammation.
- Activated Charcoal: One of the best properties of activated charcoal is that it helps draw out the toxins when it is used internally or applied externally. Activated charcoal can be applied on the bitten area to help draw out the venom, which causes unpleasant symptoms. Make a paste of the activated charcoal and apply it on the affected area. Leave it on for an hour or two. You can carry out this process once or twice a day until the symptoms start to show signs of improvement.
The best way to prevent a wolf spider bite is to get rid of the wolf spider itself. Since wolf spiders mostly thrive in dark areas, it would be a good idea to keep the house and its surroundings free from clutter or any debris. You can also keep away from thick and heavy plants in the garden since the ground tends to be a good hideout place for these spiders. Always ensure to shake any type of clothing or any other things before using them. A bite from the wolf spider is not lethal, but it is better to prevent the discomfort it brings along with the bite.