Camping & Survival

How to Survive a Spider Bite


Not dying from spider bites is probably a good idea. The good news is, when a spider bites a victim, the vast majority of the time, they recover fully. Spiders are just not as deadly as most people may think. On the other hand, I have to admit, I hate the creepy little bastards. The thought of a spider crawling on my skin is unsettling to say the least. It is the best way to get the hair to stand up on the back of my neck. In a survival situation, after the SHTF, you may find yourself spending more time in wooded areas or basements, all areas where you may encounter our eight legged friends more often. What do you do if a dangerous bug bites someone in your party?

Blackwidow Spider

The first thing to keep in mind is that a great number of spider bites occur from spiders that don’t carry medically significant amounts of venom. The jumping spider is the most common spider bit that occurs in the United States. The bites are usually painful and itchy, and cause significant swelling and redness. Victims of these bites should simply keep the area clean and bandaged until the bite heals. The spiders of most concern in the United States, however, are brown recluse and black widow spiders. Most recluse spider bites are minor with little or no necrosis. However, a small number of bites produce severe dermonecrotic lesions, and, sometimes, severe systemic symptoms, including organ damage. Rarely the bite may also produce the systemic condition with occasional fatalities. Black widow spider bites may cause muscle cramps, but no one in the United States has died from a black widow spider bite in over 10 years. Aside from that fact, it is necessary to seek medical treatment should you become a victim of a dangerous spider bite; doctors typically administer anti-venom to patients presenting with spider bite symptoms, as this will ease recovery.

brown recluse
Brown Recluse Spider

If bitten by a brown recluse or a black widow, do the following.

  • Cleanse the wound. Use soap and water to clean the wound and skin around the spider bite.
  • Slow the venom’s spread. If the spider bite is on an arm or a leg, tie a snug bandage above the bite and elevate the limb to help slow or halt the venom’s spread. Ensure that the bandage is not so tight that it cuts off circulation in your arm or leg.
  • Use a cold cloth at the spider bite location. Apply a cloth dampened with cold water or filled with ice.
  • Seek immediate medical attention. Treatment for the bite of a black widow may require an anti-venom medication. Doctors may treat a brown recluse spider bite with various medications.

Other dangerous spider bites come from various species around the world. The Brazilian wandering spider is a large brown spider similar to North American wolf spiders in appearance, although somewhat larger. It has a highly toxic venom (the most neurologically active of all spiders), and is regarded (along with the Australian funnel-web spiders, whose bites deliver slightly less venom, but are faster acting) as among the most dangerous spiders in the world.

The mouse spiders of the genus Missulena are a type of primitive burrowing spider found primarily in Australia. There have been no recorded deaths due to mouse spider bites, as these spiders typically administer a “dry” bite, with little or no venom. When a mouse spider does deliver a venomous bite, funnel web spider anti-venom has proven effective.

Tarantulas may be the largest and most fearsome looking of all spider species. Almost all North American tarantulas, however, aren’t venomous enough to inflict life threatening bites. By nature they tend to be docile, and would rather avoid humans altogether. There are some species of bird spiders in Asia however, that locals blame on at least one human fatality.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (12)

  1. Activated charcoal should be one of the first things you reach for when you get bit by a spider. Apply a poltice to the wound itself and ingest some too. AC is something everyone should keep around the house, it has so many uses.

  2. I agree with Sivispeace. Hobo spiders should also be listed here. Not only because they’re on the very bottom of my list of favorite things, but also because of their bites that had already caused a large number of deaths in the US. The effects of Hobo spider’s bites are very similar to those of the Brown Recluse spider and often people bitten by Hobo spiders think they were bitten by a Brown Recluse spider, although those two species do not coexist in the same geographic regions. See more here:

  3. My friend got bitten by a brown widow spider a few months ago and I can say that it was really serious. Honestly, when one look at the actual danger imposed by Brown Widow Spiders, the Brown Widow seems more dangerous than all the Black Widow Spiders – at least among the North American species. Well, is really a good source of info about these brown widow spiders and the danger caused by their bites.

  4. I woke up three days ago w/ a bruise on my leg & a bite in the on my upper left thigh in the middle of this bruise. I could feel the lump in the bruise and later saw the puncture wound; last nite while roughhousing w/ our cat, she playfully bit me. I wake up this morning to find 3 fang marks on my wrist, w/ 1 on the bottom. The latter happened over last night, 1/16. Our cat doesn’t play-fight “that” hard…I’m scared, did something really bite me?

  5. There is no doubt that everybody would like to stay away from spider bites because it can be very painful and can lead to very bad infection. I don’t think that spider bites are deadly for people but I certainly know that it can be lethal for dogs and other pets so one must take reasonable actions to stay away from spider bites. is a website where you can get great information about spider bites in detail.

  6. I would agree that most spider bites are not fatal with the stipulation that some of them can be if not treated properly. According to the records I reviewed there has only been one fatality from a Brown Recluse spider bite and that was a six-year-old girl. The proper medical response to narcotizing spider venom is antibiotics to treat or prevent infection and and a brief regimen of steroids to limit the allergic reaction. However, if the bite is not treated, there is a risk of allergic shock and sepsis if the infection is not treated. If I were in Brown Recluse or Black Widow country, I would carry some Diphenhydromine and antibiotic ointment in my pack.

  7. Don’t forget the Aggresive House Spider Aka the Hobo Spider. These denizens hitched a ride from Europe. They inhabit the Pacific Northwest. Their bite leaves a circle of necrosis in the fat layer beneath the skin and can cause a nasty algeric reaction.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit exceeded. Please click the reload button and complete the captcha once again.

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.