Most people have woken up in the morning, noticed a bite or what looks like a bite on them and concluded that it must have come from a spider. However, it is very unlikely that what we think are spider bites are actually caused by a spider. Recent studies and many researchers have found that most of these “spider bites” are not that at all. This is actually quite reassuring, as it seems the chances of a person really being bitten by a spider in general are much smaller than we think.

The “spider bites” that people think they have gotten are much more likely to bites or stings from other insects such as fleas, infections in your skin, or your skin’s reaction to certain chemicals. It is actually a lot harder to be bitten by a spider than you might think. As Chris Buddle, an arachnologist at Montreal’s McGill University, aptly puts it, “You really have to work to get bitten by a spider, because they don’t want to bite you.” Spiders first of all have no desire to bite humans, as they don’t suck on blood or feed on humans. Couple that fact with our much larger size, and it is easy to see why they would be much more afraid of us than we are of them, and why they tend to avoid people. If someone gets the odd bite, it is because they surprised one of the poor beasts when reaching into a glove, shoe, or other small space the spider is hiding at that moment. Even in this situation, most spider venom is harmless to humans, and on top of that, most spiders don’t have big enough fangs to actually pierce our skin.

The two spiders that can cause harm with their bite are black widows and brown recluse spiders. However, these bites are also often misidentified. Physicians in South Carolina reported a total of 478 bites from brown recluse spiders in a survey, but only one bite from a brown recluse has ever been conclusively confirmed in the state. Another study done in Southern California found that while there were 182 patients seeking treatment for a spider bite, only 3.8 percent of the group actually had spider bites. It also should be noted that 85.7 percent of them in fact had infections. The other things that could mimic a spider bite are bites from fleas, bedbugs, poison oak and poison ivy, allergies, and various viral and bacterial infections. So, you should probably double check before assuming the red bump on your arm is a spider bite.

Have you ever woken up with what you thought was a spider bite on your body but turned out to be something else?