Wolf spiders are a species, among the more than 43,000 spider species in the world, that has an excruciatingly painful bite. It is a common spider found in all parts of the world but particularly common to the U.S.
Although the wolf spider has a menacing look its bite is not fatal in humans but it is extremely painful. That said, no one would want the wolf spiders populating under their roof if they can help it. Wolf spiders are considered the 9th deadliest spiders in the world.
Why are they called wolf spiders?
The wolf spiders belong to the family Lycosidae and get their name from their hunting habits. Unlike most spiders that build a web netting to trap unsuspecting prey, the wolf spider surprisingly does not hunt this way and instead prefers to hunt outdoors. It hunts like a wolf by stalking and literally running down its prey and pouncing on it to deliver the killer venom blow. Also unlike most spiders that hunt by feeling their way around because they can’t see, the wolf spider has acute eye sight with a set of two large eyes sitting at the center front. A set of four smaller eyes are right below two medium sized ones that are situated on the very top of the head.
The wolf spider is considered a medium sized spider ranging from half an inch to two inches in length when fully grown. They have a creepy hairy look that ranges from orangish-brown to gray and black with splotches or stripes that help it with camouflage during a hunt or when simply hiding. Their bodies are long and broad, with stout, long legs. They have an additional two smaller arms/legs attached to the front known as pedipalps which add to its already menacing look.
Symptoms of a wolf spider bite
Wolf spiders are noted for their stealth and running speed. Their common habitats are grass, logs, under stones or leaf piles. They often will not invade human shelter unless the dwelling harbors insects. Also, when cooler seasons are approaching they seek shelter in human houses if they have cracks and crevices or other openings to get out of the cold.
Fortunately the wolf spider is not aggressive, however, it does not hesitate to strike and bite in self defense when threatened. As mentioned, although its venom is not deadly to humans, it can cause very unpleasant symptoms such as nausea, dizzy spells, elevated heart rate, and physical trauma where the bite occurred. You can also expect itchiness at the site of the bite, and relentless pain for a while.
How to treat the bite
Here’s how to treat the bite from a wolf spider and lessen the discomfort:
- Wash the bite area with soap and warm water and keep the wound clean
- Place an ice pack or cool cloth on the wound to help reduce pain and swelling
- Elevate the wound if the bite is on the arm or leg
- Get medication over the counter and take as soon as possible.
- If one notices swelling and itching, take an aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the swelling.