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Unfortunately, experience shows us that almost all bug bites look strikingly similar. In fact, experts say that it’s hard to positively identify the offending insect unless you actually catch it in the act. Everyone’s immune system reacts to bug bites and stings differently, producing unique symptoms in each victim, from swelling to itching to pain.

The two most common spider bites are from house spiders, specifically the jumping spider and wolf spider. While it can be scary to be bitten by any spider, these bites normally aren’t any more painful than a bee sting and shouldn’t cause problems beyond some redness, swelling, and itching, Dr. Arnold says.

If you are unsure whether a lesion is growing, draw a line around it and monitor for any changes over the coming hours. Record the time so that you can report back to your healthcare provider if, in fact, the lesion is spreading.

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And despite what you may have heard, even where brown recluses are present, they rarely bite, he adds. To identify a brown recluse, look for six eyes arranged in pairs. (Although getting close enough to see the eye pattern on a spider sounds, frankly, terrifying.)

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When should you call a doctor or 911?

Bullseye rashes are most common in tick bites that cause Lyme disease but can also occur with certain spider bites.

Although it’s not always possible to know which bug is to blame for your latest bite (or bites), you can often get a pretty good idea based on your skin, the site of the sting, and a few other clues. Ready to get to the bottom of your bug bite mystery? Here are pictures of the most common bug bites to keep on your radar.

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Unless you actually see a spider bite you, the only real way to tell if you’ve been bitten is to have it checked by a healthcare professional. Even then, it can be tricky. Not every patient presents with a textbook looking bite or skin changes. Always give your provider as much information as possible, including where you were and what happened.

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Signs of a Dangerous Spider Bite

Other whole-body symptoms of a brown recluse spider bite include:

Multiple bites are not typically from spiders, especially not a brown recluse or black widow spider. In cases where there are multiple bites, they could be from insects that travel in groups such as mosquitoes, bedbugs, or chiggers.

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Black widow venom works quickly, often within an hour, and may cause severe whole-body symptoms like:

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Occurrence of the Bite

The presence of two or more of these signs almost guarantees that you do not have a brown recluse bite. Some of the same signs may apply to other spider bites.

And while poisonous bites are rare, any bite—spider or otherwise—can turn serious if it becomes infected, says Dr. Arnold. There are three main complications that can arise from bites: cellulitis, blisters, and swelling.

Brown recluse and black widow spiders prefer cool, dark places and are more likely to be found in an attic, barn, or wood pile. Many bites also occur when you roll over on a spider in bed or put on shoes or clothes that sat out on the floor overnight.

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