Sometimes people will sustain a bite from a bug, without knowing if the bite was inflicted by an arachnid or an insect. In other cases, people will notice what looks like a bug bite, but cannot recall having sustained a bug bite. Some bug bites are serious and the wounds they inflict should not be left to heal on their own without medical attention. Other bug bites, or stings, can be serious for some people while being completely harmless to others. For example, those who are allergic to bee stings must not only avoid bees stings, but also bites and stings from other venomous bugs as well. However, it can be hard for an average person to make even the most basic distinctions between different types of bug bites, as many people cannot differentiate between a spider bite and a mosquito bite when it comes to the look of the inflicted wound and the physical symptoms that each bite can produce.

When a mosquito bites a person’s skin, it inflicts one single puncture wound directly into a capillary while also injecting small amounts of saliva. This saliva typically causes itching and minor swelling in bite victims. Spider bites, unlike mosquito bites, leave behind two puncture wounds, as spiders possess fangs and not a single needle-like mouthpart for bloodsucking. While many spider bites may induce minor swelling and itching sensations not unlike those produced by mosquito bites, spider bites are also often accompanied by pain. Ultimately, mosquito bites are more dangerous than spider bites, as mosquitoes spread a plethora of life-threatening diseases, while no spider species is known to spread disease to humans. But when it comes to the medical consequences of a bite’s effect on human tissue, spider bites could be considered relatively serious.

Some spider bites, like brown recluse bites, do not produce swelling; instead, these spider bites leave wounds that are flat or even sunken. Brown recluse bites can ulcerate, but only after one week following a bite, and no earlier. While brown recluse bites are often thought to be among the most dangerous of spider bites, they actually rarely lead to serious medical conditions. However, the American black widow, the Australian redback, and the Sydney funnel web spider are a few of the very rare spider species that possess venom that can make their bite victims sick, allergies or not. The physical symptoms caused by their venom are similar to flu symptoms. Both spider and mosquito bites have the potential to become infected, but unless the bite wound does not become dirty and is not itched excessively, infections are exceptionally rare.

Have you ever sustained a bite from a dangerous spider after assuming that the bite had been inflicted by a mosquito?