In Kansas alone, there are more than 50 prevalent spider species, a few of which are venomous, meaning their bite is toxic to humans, making us ill and – in extreme cases – can even result in death.
The intimidatingly named wolf spiders are common throughout the U.S. and particularly in Kansas, which is home to wolf spider species such as the Carolina Wolf Spider. Moreover, in the eastern part of the state – including Lee’s Summit and Overland Park – wolf spider varieties such as the Striped Wolf Spider and the Dotted Wolf Spider can also be found.
So, how do you identify a wolf spider?
Wolf spiders are typically large – around 1.5-2.5 inches – are hairy, and have a pale brown, grey-brown or grey colouring. Depending on the species, the wolf spider may have striped or spotted markings on its body or legs.
When are you likely to encounter a wolf spider?
Unlike some spider species, wolf spiders don’t hibernate, meaning its possible to encounter one all year, though you’re most likely in the summer and autumn months when more prey is available, and thus the wolf spiders are more easily able to survive and reproduce.
In the Spring and Summer months, when the temperature is relatively warm, wolf spiders are most commonly found outdoors, where they can easily hunt for food such as small insects.
In the fall and Winter, however, many wolf spiders choose to enter our homes in search of shelter, food and protection from the elements, which is when we should be most vigilant about ensuring our homes stay free from wolf spiders.
Where are you likely to find a wolf spider?
Unlike many other spider species, the wolf spider doesn’t catch its prey by spinning a web to trap unsuspecting insects, and instead seeks out its prey on foot.
For this reason, wolf spiders are typically found on the ground outside, as they scuttle through grass or across the floor in search of food. They may also be found in fields, in piles of leaves and in stores of wood.
So, if you’re setting foot into your garden (particularly at night, when wolf spiders hunt) you should always wear footwear in order to protect yourself from the bite of a wolf spider.
However, in the fall when it gets colder and the wolf spider finds it more difficult to hunt, they tend to seek shelter inside our homes.
Again, when trying to locate a wolf spider, you won’t be looking for a web. Instead, wolf spiders like to hide in dark, cluttered spaces, and even in houseplants, so if your Kansas home has any of these things, you may be more at risk of harbouring wolf spiders.
Do wolf spiders bite, and are they deadly?
Although all spiders may bite a human if threatened or provoked, most spider bites are relatively harmless, and any mark left by the critters – typically a small, red, swollen bump – will clear up by itself within days.
Despite the wolf spider’s threatening name, it doesn’t have a venomous bite, meaning it is very unlikely to cause you harm if it does attack.
However, it’s possible to have a bad reaction to any spider’s bite if you’re allergic or the bite becomes infected – in this case, medical attention should be sought.
How do you know if you’ve had a reaction to a wolf spider bite?
If the spider bite increases in size over time, or if you experience other signs of an allergic reaction such as facial swelling (particularly around the mouth), rashes, hives, difficulty breathing or dizziness, then it’s likely that you’ve had an allergic reaction to the spider bite and should seek medical help immediately.
More than this, in rare cases, wolf spider bites (and bites from any spider or insect) may result in blood infection, which can be detected early on via a red line that extends from the bump. In this case, immediately seek medical attention.
How should you treat a wolf spider bite?
Like any spider bite – or a bite from any insect, or any cut or scrape – you should wash the affected area with soap and water and wrap with a bandage to safeguard against infection.
You should also be wary that the bite you’ve received may not be from a wolf spider – and may be from a dangerous, venomous spider species such as the black widow or the brown recluse spider.
If you experience extreme pain – or pain that travels away from the bitten area, particularly to the back, stomach or chest – or experience symptoms such as sweating, fever, chills and aches, then you may have been bitten by a venomous spider. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should immediately seek medical attention.
How can you get rid of wolf spiders – and other spiders – from your home?
Wolf spiders, like many other spider species, are solitary creatures, so removing the spider physically from the home is the best port of call, and pest control can be hired to achieve this if you’d rather not attempt it yourself.
Especially if you’re not 100% sure it is a wolf spider – or another more dangerous spider species – then calling pest control to physically or chemically deal with the spider problem is the best idea.
Moreover, one of the best methods of keeping your home wolf spider free – among other small pests – is prevention. So, employing professional pest control to carry out an inspection of your home to identify problem areas – such as gaps, cracks and holes in your walls, foundation and windows – will allow you to fill them, and stop the critters from coming in, in addition to keeping your windows and doors shut as often as possible.