Wolf spiders (Lycosidae) are excellent hunters among those arthropod species that do not build webs. They were believed to prey in groups similar to wolves do. Consequently, they possess good…

Can Wolf Spider Bites Appear Deadly to Humans?

Wolf spiders (Lycosidae) are excellent hunters among those arthropod species that do not build webs. They were believed to prey in groups similar to wolves do. Consequently, they possess good eyesight. Another very distinctive feature is how wolf spiders take care of their babies for there are no analogies in other spiders of their special attitude to young generations. People often exaggerate wolf spider bites’ impact on humans.

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How do Wolf Spiders Look Like?

Lycosidae own a lengthened cephalothorax, an abdomen (it is bigger in females) and eight hairy legs. Wolf spiders mostly inhabit grasslands, meadows, forests and very often seen in gardens. This life-style requires appropriate protection and to be invisible both from future dinners and other predators. That’s why Lycosidae are rather subtle in color. In order to camouflage in their favorite habitat, wolf spiders can be dark-colored or lightly-brown colored with spots in the form of two stripes on the back. They live in burrows in the ground, closing them with trapdoors or left open. Others hide their holes with pebbles or leaves.

Wolf spider’s common appearance often makes people confused as a lot of arthropods have approximately the same coloration. Mostly, people misidentify wolf spiders with brown recluse siblings. But there are some traits that help differentiate these two species.

Wolf Spiders

Wolf spiders mostly inhabit grasslands, meadows, forests and very often seen in gardens.

Wolf Spiders vs. Brown Recluses

ColorSizeEyesDistribution and habitatBehavior
Wolf spidersDark shades of gray, brown and chestnut with lighter-colored spots of beige and yellow on the abdomen and cephalothorax.Up to 30 mm slightly more than an inch) and more. Females are larger. Males are darker and possess solid front pedipalps.8 eyes with 4 medium sized ones on the bottom row, two big ones in the middle and the rest two little eyes on the top. The eyes always glow in the darkness when they are lit by a torch.Everywhere with a warm climate. The spiders prefer wild environment farther from humans’ habitat.Never weave webs for hunting. Only for defense, shelter and during pregnancy in females. Rarely found in humans’ houses. Prey on mostly at night, chasing a victim. Feed on various kinds of insects.
Brown recluse spidersBrown and dark-yellowish shades. Fiddle-like spot on the head is typical not only for the recluses but also for species of other arachnid typesFrom 0,5 up to 1 inch. Females are a little bigger6 eyes, arranged in three pairs (one median and two lateral)Southern parts of the USA, including Florida, Texas. The exception is California – they don’t live here.Nocturnal species. Build webs as shelters. Often found in dark places of buildings as well as empty boxes, boots, clothes, bed linen, behind pictures, in crevices and holes in the houses
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 Interesting Facts About Wolf Spiders:

  1. When females are pregnant, they spend plenty of time in the sun, because only in those conditions the eggs develop faster. But often in this case mommies suffer from dehydration, losing up to 30% from their weight! What is more, females often open the sacs and moisture the eggs with liquid from their mouth. After that, they patch the sacs again. Such a caring attitude towards young spiders.
  2. After hatching little species rest on females back until they are ready to forage themselves. There are so many spiderlings swarming about their mother, that it is hard to notice her eyes.
  3. If a female is deprived of her sac, she will try to find it and even can carry any ball-like piece.
  4. The nervous system of wolf spiders is considered the most developed as compared with other spiders, because of their rather various life-style, including hunting and chasing a prey, sophisticated reproduction behavior and the youth upbringing.
  5. When threatened, these eight-legged arthropod species play death by drawing their legs inside and lying motionless until they feel that they are out of danger.

When females are pregnant, they spend plenty of time in the sun.

Wolf Spider Bites: are They Dangerous?

These fast-running and agile arthropods are non-aggressive and very timid. But being extremely bothered, they are able to cause a rather significant pain. That’s why you should never touch wolf spiders’ in their burrows and tease them when found and you should explain it to your children.

How to Identify Wolf Spider Bites:

  1. The safest way to be sure of the spider’s blame of stinging you is to catch it in the very act of biting. Their glowing big eyes are a distinguished feature even in small species.
  2. The bitten place is marked with two dots resulting from the fangs. A general picture is added by the bite’s acute pain, redness, and swelling.
  3. In severe cases, the symptoms include necrotizing of the tissues. Also, the bite effect may be followed by enlargement of lymph glands.
Very often those are the only features of wolf spider bites. Being rather painful, they in most cases heal up in 10 days without any post-effects. But if the bitten human has an allergy to spider stings, he will feel worse and need a proper medical help. Also, there may be some complications after the bite if the wound became infected as the arachnid’s fangs are commonly covered with previous food residues that lead to inflammation when got into the injured place.

Very important: Though the bites are not dangerous to human due to their low toxicity, children, the aged, as well as people with depressed health should seek immediate medical aid in case of wolf spider bite.

Bites in most cases heal up in 10 days without any post-effects.

Wolf spider Bites’ Treatment

    1. Treat the bitten place the same way as any sound. Wash it with cool soapy water. By doing so, you stop spreading the venom and clean it from outside bacteria.
    2. There is no need to fix a tourniquet near the bitten place.
    3. Apply an ointment with antibacterial effect to kill microorganisms, which got inside the wound.
    4. Keep the injured limb as high as possible to lessen the swelling. Try to stay calm and to perform the least movements with the bitten leg or arm.
    5. Dress the limb with a compress, consisting of a towel, soaked in cold water or with ice wrapped inside to reduce the swelling and interrupt the further venom flow.
    6. Take over-the-counter medications in case of severe pain, itching or leisure.
    7. Monitor the symptoms. In the case of fever, nausea, and vomiting or other serious symptoms, immediately consult your doctor.
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How to Get Rid of Wolf Spiders in The House and in The Garden

  • Declutter your yard as well as the house from piles of litter, dried leaves, food residues. Leave the area around your house free of everything that spiders could use as a shelter from sunny hot days. Replace cardboard boxes into plastic ones and keep them as high as possible from the ground.
  • Make sure that there are no insects in your house, which could be perfect food for spiders
  • Switch off external lights or at least change them into less bright ones.
  • Caulk all the crevices and holes; install anti-insect mesh on the ventilation tubes.
  • Pay attention to the necessity of avoiding clothes and paper piles inside the house.
  • Use a vacuum-cleaner for regularly tidying up.
  • In case you notice a wolf spider in the house, use natural based essentials (lavender, peppermint, lemon, and cinnamon) or vinegar to make your territory disgusting for spiders.
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