Can a Spider Bite Multiple Times? Solved!


I spent years being afraid of spiders, with the root cause of the fear being thinking I might get bitten by them. Not only that, but I’d also heard they can bite multiple times! Eek!

But is this true? Can a spider bite multiple times?

It is a common misconception that spiders want to bite you. If they do, it is usually by accident or in self-defense, and they rarely bite more than once.

In this article, I’ll finally put to bed the myth that spiders bite multiple times. I’ll also talk about where the myth came from, and how likely you are to get bitten by one. Also, I’ll look at what a spider bite looks like, so you’ll know one if you see one.

Spiders don't bite multiple times
A spider will only bite as a last resort in self defense, and almost never multiple times

Do Spiders Bite Multiple Times?

If a person wakes up covered in welts, they often blame spiders.

But all research suggests that spiders have no interest in humans, and it is only once if they bite.

Most likely, what you thought were spider bites are actually caused by something else like arthropods. These could be fleas, mosquitoes, bedbugs, or mites who intentionally seek out humans to feast on for their dinner.

Other causes of these “spider bites” could be down to a skin infection or disorder caused by chemicals, plants, or a medical condition, along with viral and bacterial infections.

You may be surprised to learn that MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is often confused with a spider bite as they look similar.

AnimalNumber of Times They Bite If Able
SpiderOnce extremely rarely (unless very rare breed)
FleasUp to 3 times
MosquitoesNo limit
MitesNo limit

Myths About Spider Bites

Many of the fears surrounding spiders come from myths that give these solitary creatures a bad name. (Source)

But even if people haven’t seen a spider and encounter multiple bites, they immediately assume it is a spider.

So, how did all these rumors and assumptions regarding spider bites start?

These creepy crawlies were considered a source of contamination, and initially, people blamed them for spreading the Bubonic Plague during the Middle Ages. We later discovered that fleas were responsible.

Also, back in the 16th and 17th centuries in Southern Italy in the Province of Taranto, people encountered hysteric behavior called tarantism, thought to be brought on by a bite by the wolf spider.

These so-called victims engaged in frenzied dancing to rid themselves of the venom and prevent death, which lasted for several days.

Later on, scientists discovered that bites from a wolf spider are harmless, but little is known about the real reason for this hysteria.

However, mud sticks and these spider fears pass on from one generation to the next, giving these eight-legged creatures an unfair and undeserved bad reputation.

Do Spiders Bite Humans?

There are many assumptions and myths about spiders that these solitary creatures get a somewhat rough deal.

Spiders are not bloodsuckers, so they have no real reason to seek out humans like mosquitoes and bed bugs do and are not plotting to eat our flesh.

In fact, these eight-legged creatures were not created to battle with people and are actually scared of us. If you approach one, they are more than likely to run away.

If you fear spiders, you will be happy to learn that the risk of getting bitten by one is extremely low.

These creatures have no desire to bite us.

But if you do get bitten by a spider, it is most likely because you have surprised them by putting on a piece of clothing or shoe they have occupied.

A spider will only bite you if they feel threatened, so if you leave them alone, it will leave you alone

Do Spiders Bite You When You Are Sleeping?

Spiders are more active at night, and a popular myth is that they bite you when you are asleep.

But as we have learned, spiders only bite when they feel threatened.

However, if a spider gets trapped in the bedclothes or you roll onto one, you could possibly wake up to find a minor wound.

You will mainly only encounter one bite compared to fleas, mosquitoes, or bed bugs which bite multiple times.

Spiders avoid sleeping humans
Spiders will typically avoid sleeping humans (contrary to popular myth!)

What Does a Spider Bite Look Like?

A spider bite usually looks like any other bug bite and can sometimes go unnoticed.

They are often red and inflamed with a painful or itchy bump on the skin. Sometimes a white blister can develop with a red ring around it.

But unless you see a spider, it isn’t easy to be sure that one actually bit you.

There may be over 40,000 species of spiders worldwide, but only a handful have fangs long enough to penetrate human skin.

If a spider bites you, the hospital must identify the species appropriately. While most spider bites are not a cause for concern, some can be harmful.

Are Spider Bites Harmful?

Spiders hunt for invertebrates, creatures with no backbone like insects and flies. But while most spiders have venom to paralyze their prey, the toxin usually does not affect someone who has been bitten by one.

That said, a few species can be harmful if they bite a human being, such as the recluse spider and the black widow. (Source)

Those most at risk from spider venom include babies, young children, the elderly, and anyone with a heart condition. Some people can be allergic to spider venom and may experience a bad reaction requiring immediate medical attention.

Nowadays, though, deaths from poisonous spider bites are rare thanks to antivenom.

But if you suspect that a spider bites you or someone else, you need to know the symptoms.

Symptoms Of a Spider Bite

Most spider bites don’t cause any symptoms.

However, bites from spiders such as black widows and recluse spiders can be severe.

If you suspect a bite from a widow spider, symptoms can include:
• Redness, pain, and swelling around the bite – can spread to your abdomen, back, and chest.
• Cramping – you may suffer severe abdominal cramps, often mistaken for appendicitis.
• Vomiting, nausea, sweating, or tremors – you may experience one or all of these.

If you experience a bite from a recluse spider, symptoms can include:
• Experience increasing pain around eight hours after being bitten.
• Body aches, fever, and chills.
• A bite wound turns from white or pale to purple or dark blue with a red ring surrounding it.
• A bite wound develops into an open sore with dying skin around it.

If you think or know you have been bitten by one of these poisonous spiders or experiencing any of the mentioned symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

The severity of the symptoms depends on how much venom the spider injected.

What About Bites from a Tarantula?

If you own a tarantula, you may wonder if a bite from them is harmful too.

But your pet spider is unlikely to bite if you handle it gently and don’t provoke it.

That said, if a tarantula bites you, it can leave bite marks and be quite painful. Usually, you can ease the pain with an ice pack and over-the-counter pain relievers, cleaning the bite with soap and water. Other symptoms rarely occur.

However, there is a higher risk from your spider’s urticating hairs that they throw from their abdomen when threatened.

If these tarantula hairs come into contact with your skin, they can cause redness, pain, itching, and swelling that can last for several weeks. There is also a risk of the hairs getting into your eyes which can cause problems such as sensitivity to light, redness, and pain.

How to Avoid Spider Bites

You can take preventions to avoid spider bites which include:
• Maintaining a clutter-free environment.
• Wear long sleeves and pants where you think spiders might be.
• Shaking out blankets, shoes, and clothing before use.
• Seal entries such as the walls and floors.
• Spray peppermint oil around your home.

Summary

There are many myths about spider bites that are mostly false. Spiders are solitary creatures that eat invertebrates and have no desire to bite humans. They only bite when threatened and usually only once.

Most bites from spiders are harmless, but if a black widow or a recluse spider bites you, you will require immediate medical attention.

If you think you have spiders in or around your home, take the necessary precautions to prevent one from biting you, like wearing long sleeves and shaking out clothes and shoes before using them.

Brigitte Cave

Bridgitte grew up on a farm and eventually spent 5 years on Mahe Island in the Seychelles during her teen years. Her time living on a farm was spent mostly around animals including dogs, cats, cows, horses, and all sorts of fowl (chickens, ducks, and geese included). You can find out more about Bridgitte at https://mercurypets.com/our-writers/ Bridgitte is a keen horse rider and has competed in many showjumping competitions. She loves writing about pretty much all animals, and particularly dogs, cats, small mammals, horses and reptiles.

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