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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wolf Spider

Michigan Spiders - Wolf Spider-3
Michigan Spiders - Wolf Spider-2
Michigan Spiders - Wolf Spider-1The Wolf Spider pictured in the above three images was only about the size of a nickle (legs included). Since it is only early May, I would expect to find them a bit larger in the Fall.

Identification – There are several different looking Wolf Spiders, so I mentioned some of the more common patterns seen in Michigan. The best way to identify a Wolf Spider is by the eye pattern. Wolf Spiders have a row of four smaller eyes with a set of two large eyes higher up. Above the larger eyes is yet another set of two medium sized eyes to make it eight eyes in all.

Abdomen – Different species of the Wolf Spider have different patterns. Some appear not to have any markings. Some have a striped pattern that matches the look of their abdomen.

Cephalothorax – Often with a striped pattern running from front to back it is also common to see them with stripes that radiate out from the center.

Female Size - NA

Male Size - NA

Bite Info – There are no real dangerous Wolf Spiders indigenous to North America. Their bites can sometimes cause some swelling, itching and some pain, but no long term or life threatening effects.

There is a belief that the Wolf Spider can carry the MRSA Infection. I have not found absolute proof saying they can or cannot.

I do know that it is very common for doctors to misdiagnose infections as spider bites. My personal belief is that cases of a Wolf Spider biting someone and giving them the MRSA Infection is due to either a misdiagnose or the person in question already having the infection on their skin and when they are bitten, it then gets inside and becomes dangerous.

Other Notes – A common species of the Wolf Spider is very similar to the common Grass Spider in looks. They often do not have quite the same striping but the most assured way to tell them apart is by the eye pattern as mentioned above.

Wolf Spiders usually do not spin webs like most spiders do. Though they have the ability to, they often only do so to attach their eggs to their abdomen and carry them around. Once the babies hatch, they will continue to ride around on the mother’s back until they are large enough to fend for themselves.

Genus - Acantholycosa


  1. I believe this is the type of spider I shared my shower with this morning... you can find a photo of it here if interested. Scary things, in my opinion.

  2. We used to have a lot of these running around an old house we lived in growing up. Some got up to the size of a half dollar (legs included). They can run fast. :)

    Be careful stepping on them unless you have spray handy. I stepped on one once and all those babies riding on the mother's back started running around on the floor. They are far too small to step up and there are hundreds of them, so you'll need spray to kill them if this occurs. Of course, this has only happened one time while stepping on a wolf spider and I've stepping on many of them.

  3. I myself last year was bitten by a spider and was infected with MRSA because of it.

  4. But ask yourself. Was it the spider that gave you MRSA, or was the MRSA already on your skin and the spider bite just gave it the chance to get going?

    I may be wrong, but I am a believer that spiders do not carry it and give it to us. We just sometimes contract the virus (or whatever it is) and it infects whatever wound we get and that sometimes happens to be a spider bite. Other times it is just a scratch.

    You say you were bit by a spider, but can I ask if you actually saw the spider that bit you? Often MRSA is misdiagnosed as a spider bite. Even by doctors. I am not doubting your word. I am just curious about the facts.

  5. okay so I'm pretty sure these are the spiders in my house and they get HUGH!!! Should I just step on them to get rid of them and where are they coming from? They creep me out I don't want to wake up with one on my face tomorrow morning. And your sure they aren't seriously dangerous cause i have a small dog, and I worry about him.

  6. The Wolf Spider is known to be much scarier to look at than to be dangerous. Their venom is not considered dangerous to humans. Cats will make them into a play toy or snack if they get a chance. Not sure what a dog would do. But the dog is in no danger.

    Yet,I would suggest getting an exterminator over stepping on them and if you don't want to spend the money, do yourself a favor and look at it before stepping on it. When the babies hatch, they will usually stay gathered on the mother's back for a while and if something happens to disturb them, they will scatter. If you step on a mother wolf spider that is still carrying the infants? They are likely too small to all be squished by your shoe and you might have plenty more spiders around in the near future.

    If it is not carrying infants, do what you will if they are in your territory. I am not on a big "Save the Spider" or "Don't kill it" mission. In their turf, they deserve to be left alone. Come into my home and they are at the mercy of my mood. lol .... If it is carrying, you might be better off spraying it in hopes of killing the infants as well. That's just my idea though. I don't claim to be an expert.

  7. Dear Kenneth,
    I was bitten by a wolf spider on my thumb while pulling weeds. I felt a sting and looked down as I drew back and saw it run over the split wood landscaping timber. I caught it. I am going on day 8 and since the bite everything that can and will go wrong has. I went to the doctor and he to a cellular swab. He told me directly that wolf spiders have been captured and checked by the conservation and health dept. The spiders and not just wolf but wolf spiders carry a large amount of the bacteria themselves. Upon injection the mersa enters the sight and bam you have one heck of a nasty infection. I just had a complete cbc and physical a few weeks prior to the bite and everything I could possibly be tested for came back normal. Well except my cholesterol and my A1C. I became ill with swollen lymphnodes in my neck. I was sore and ached everywhere. This was day two after the initial bite. The pain in my thumb was extremely intense. This is one nasty little spider that packs a hell of a punch. Now I'm having skin scrapes on huge doses of antibiotic and NSAIDS. So yes the wolf spider carries the mersa that is in question. The spider was identified as a young wolf spider by AAA exterminaters. I had tones in my back yard. Got a couple of chickens from my sister and the population has been greatly reduced. Lol. The chickens just pluck them right up and them suckers are gone.

    1. dear anonymous you should bite spider back

  8. Anonymous - I do thank-you for the information. I will definitely give this message credit, but at the same time, you have to understand that anyone can say anything and I need to back information up in some way before I teach it to the public. If it is in any way possible for you to email me and give me the name and location of your doctor so I can try and get more concrete evidence, it would be very helpful. I will also try and send an email to the conservation and health dept as well.

    It is my absolute goal to give the public the most accurate info I can.

  9. Do wolf spiders make noises when mating? My daughter says she found over a dozen wolf spiders under our deck this afternoon, when she heard a strange buzzing sound in the leaves. She says it was like a buzzing or vibrating sound and it was quite loud since there were so many spiders! We live in the northern lower peninsula.

    1. No, they were probably cicadas. They could be mistaken for a spider if you have never seen them before. They are about the same size as a wolf spider. Very common in parks with woods and rivers. Even more so, any town above waters, fife lake.. So on and so on.

      Long story short. Harmless. Just annoying.

    2. That sounds more like it could have been a Massasauga Rattlesnake.,1607,7-153-10370_12145_12201-32995--,00.html

  10. I want to know if the spiders we are finding in our apartment in SE Michigan is a wolf spider or not some other type.... I am deathly afraid of all insects, so this is as close as I got to it. I couldn't see markings or the eyes to identify it... The pictures are on my Facebook page under mobile photos

    I also want to make absolutely sure they are not dangerous.. I have small children in my apartment and they sometimes bring me bugs and things....

  11. From the pic, I would definitely guess it is a Wolf Spider. As for how dangerous the Wolf Spider is, this is where I am with the whole discussion at this time......

    I have called Howard Russell, an Entomolist for MSU's Diagnostic Department for nearly thirty years, and left him a long message on his voice mail explaining who I was, and asking him about the Wolf Spider and the possibility of it carrying the MRSA infection. It was around a week later when he called me back and I was not near my phone at the time. He left a voice mail. His words.....

    "I am returning your call from last week about the Wolf Spider. I have never heard of that before, so I really doubt it."

    If someone who has been in the field as a true expert has never heard of it carrying the MRSA infection, I have to believe it doesn't truly carry it. I am constantly hearing stories of doctors diagnosing spider bites (here in Michigan) as Recluse bites, when they are not here in Michigan. I myself once had a foot swell up like a balloon and a doctor said it was an infection from a scratch on the other side of the foot. When it continued to get worse, I went to another doctor who said it was a spider bite and gave me a prescription for it. It healed in a couple of days from that. Doctors usually know their stuff, but they are often misdiagnosing things because they don't always know what they are talking about. So any stories I hear of a doctor saying the Wolf spider carries MRSA and that some group as studied it and proven it does, or that recluse spiders are biting people here in Michigan... I have to put down as just another person (doctor or not) talking about something they don't know a lot about. Until someone can actually show me some real evidence of any of these things, I must continue to believe they are stories and nothing more.

    So for now, I have no choice but to say Wolf Spiders are not dangerous. They can bite. There can, on a rare occasion, be allergic reactions. But the venom is not considered dangerous and there is no evidence of the Wolf spider or any other spider carrying MRSA. In fact, I have to believe the truth is that people contract MRSA and it is misdiagnosed as a spider bite, because it looks so much like it at first.

    If someone can ever show me hard evidence contrary to this stand, I would very much appreciate it.

  12. i might serve spider bite but sipider not going to survive my bite

    1. i might survive spider bite but sipider not going to survive my bite

  13. I too had bite on the back of my knee that got infected. The doctor diagnosed the injury as a brown recluse bite. It was very painful. The antibiotics did not work fast enough so I was sent to the ER for an IV. I have captured many wolf spiders in the area that I think I was bitten, but never a brown recluse. I think it came from under my desk at work. MY son once got MRSA on the front of his knee. My infection was not diagnosed as MRSA. The culture came back with not assignable issues. The wolf spider could have given me MRSA though. I never caught the spider that I was bitten by but the holes in my skin looked like an insect bite. Thanks Jason

  14. I would definitely say it was another misdiagnosis to say it was a Recluse bite.

    Since your infection was never diagnosed as MRSA, you cannot know the Wolf spider or any other spider bite gave you MRSA. You are not even sure it was MRSA.

    Quite often, dangerous skin infections do look just like spider and insect bites, That is the reason they are misdiagnosed so often. Usually though, it is just an infection we contracted.

  15. Hey Ken good job on this sight! I was just up in Gralling in buddies cabin and there was a wolf spider in the sink she was there for some time her belly was small so I caught her and fed her what I caught, very aggresive. I tried at the end of the weekend to let her go but she cimbed back in the box, so I kept it and brought her back to Flint. I put her in a aquarium with a nice cubby hole and she seems to be fine so far(fed her crickets).It was very dry up north and I saw alott of webings and ticks up there. Iwas wondering if that has somthing to do with her size? Her legs out spand a beer can's top, when I can take a pic Ill put it on here. Once again thank you for this sight. signed Paul

  16. MRSA is a COMMUNITY based, antibiotic resistant strain of staph contracted in hospitals, clinics, locker rooms, gyms, astro-turf etc. It is MOST often contracted in a medical setting. You can carry MRSA and not know it until you get something minor, like an ingrown hair or scraping your knee, that gets more painful and swollen than normal and heals poorly without antibiotics. As far as I know, no insect can "give you" MRSA. They can give you a skin puncture and their venom if they have it, the puncture can then become infected. But spiders don't have a MRSA venom. However, MRSA itself can be very serious. I was hospitalized for 5 days when a cut did not respond to ordinary antibiotics. IV antibiotics were required.

  17. i just have to say yes the wolf spider bite is very painfull i have been fighting with these things for 2 years and have been bitten by them over 5 times the bite starts out as what you would think was a zit but once it has been broken open you must immediatly wash the area with anti bac soap and put triple antibiotic ointment on it i must add though i have been bitten by them well over 5 times throught the years and i (knock on wood) have only been diagnosed with a spider bit and all the results have came back with no MRSA so i dont think this spider carries it but man does that little dam spider bite hurt like a mofo

  18. I saw this pretty big spider in front of a store on top of a small pole a couple years ago. It seemed pretty agressive. Its front legs where up, ready to strike. It actually did try to strike a person in front of me. I am pretty sure it resembled a wolf spider, since I have seen a couple down in South Carolina.

  19. It seems my house has been invaded by these. It started out seeing one maybe once or twice a week. Now, it is easily 1/day if not more. I am terrified of spiders and have small children. I do not want to make them fear them but on the same token, need to find a way to keep them outdoors where I feel they belong. Any suggestions on what to do? My husband thinks I am crazy but he doesn't understand the depth of my fear.

  20. we've had a wolf spider living on our kitchen window ledge all summer. She's been a great bug catcher and seems to hang out in her web most of the time. We haven't had any fruit flies, ants or mosquitoes in our kitchen since she moved in. Now that fall is here, we're wondering about the life span of the wolf spider, and what they do in the winter for food?

  21. I was bitten last night by what I thought was a spider, did not see because it was in a pile of laundry I was folding. Looked everywhere and couldn't find spider. I live in Adrian, which is SE Michigan. I was bitten on my wrist and now my arm up to my elbow and my hand are swollen. Took Benadryl and Ibuprofen. You can barely see where the puncture wounds are, one is more visisble then the other. I have no insurance so I'm kinda waiting it out, but my arm sure is very tender and my finger feels a little tingly. Anyone know if this is a normal reaction or should I pay the big bucks and goto ER.

  22. Thanks for all the good information. Really helpful.

  23. My 3 old son was recently bitten on the ankle. Wasn't sure at first what could've done it, but soon after a visit at the ER we found the culprit. His bite soon turned into a crater like hole, about the size of a pea (which prompted the ER visit). He didn't complain of any pain but there was evidence of itching and swelling. Say what you will, but I have seen firsthand what these little buggers are capable of!

  24. We have quite a few wolf spiders. They have not yet been seen to bite any of my family. Today, however, my 10 year old came up and has shown me a bite on his leg. It is a clear spider bite. I do not know of it was a wolf. It is swollen as much or even a little less than a mosquito bite, and it itches. We have other kinds of spider wandering about. House spiders and whatnot. We live in central Michigan. So, keeping an eye on it. I like wolf spiders, by the way. I think they are beautiful. As long as they do not become too populous in the house that is ;-)

  25. this is very interesting about MRSA, I have never had this before I moved to westland,mi. there I shared a house with a lot of wolf spiders. I would see them all the time. I had numerous ( boils) that came up in the 6 years I lived there. Since I moved I have had no infection.The boils or (bites) would swell up and then drain leaving sometimes a hole the size of a quarter. But always healed 100%. Now I wounder if this was ie wolf spider bites.

    1. I am from Flint Michigan. I believe untreated bc of not knowing you have the bite and or not knowing how to clean will cause it to get infected and or could cause a boil which is said to be staff and or mersa infection. Just saying.

    2. I am from Flint Michigan. I believe untreated bc of not knowing you have the bite and or not knowing how to clean will cause it to get infected and or could cause a boil which is said to be staff and or mersa infection. Just saying.

  26. Probably person already is colonized with Mrsa and the spider bite breaks the skin allowing for an opportunistic infection. I'm sure I am colonized with Mrsa along with my daughter since in a hospital employee.

  27. Thank you for posting this. I live in Panama City, Florida and perhaps have a different subspecies of wolfies here. I adore them! In FL we have the so-called "palmetto bug" (= polite name for aggressive giant flying roach) and my first experience with a wolfie was seeing a big one run across the feed room floor to tackle a huge roach that was headed for my bare foot. My next interaction was when a mother wolfie carried her babies into my house, dropped them off under a bookshelf in my office, climbed up onto my desk and waved her front legs at me as if to say, "take care of my babies!" then crawled away. A couple of days later I found her dead but some of her babies survived and stayed around. That was about 6 years ago and they've been coming into my house ever since, dropping off their babies, most of whom go back outside when they get bigger. I believe some of those same babies come back as adults but obviously I can't verify that. My house is completely free of roaches, silverfish, earwigs, and other bugs without any pesticides, which is unusual here in FL even in the cleanest homes. My wolfies seem to be extremely docile and I have never been bitten by them. We recently had an infestation of bedbugs brought by tenants into our rental trailer and I posted on FB that I was glad I had wolfies in my house just in case any bugs might escape our strict protocol (strip at the door, brush off and immediately shower after working in the trailer). Well, one of my reasonably well-educated friends replied that wolf spiders "carry flesh eating virus." I have worked in medicine for 22 years and there is no such thing as "flesh eating virus." "Flesh eating bacteria," yes - MRSA - but it comes from hospitals and human contact, NOT from spiders! I agree with Ljg680 in that MRSA can be carried on the skin and any break could lead to infection, but there is no reason that a wolf spider bite would be more likely to cause this than any random puncture, cut or scrape. If anything I'd be more worried about a bedbug bite (as they feed on human blood and therefore could carry disease). Also, laypeople tend to vastly overestimate doctors' ability to correctly diagnose the cause of diseases. A typical skin lesion can be attributed to a spider bite without any laboratory evidence, and finding a wolfie in your house does not equal proof that the spider was responsible. Apparently at one time it was believed that wolfie bites caused necrosis but this has since been debunked. Can wolfies bite people? I'm sure they "can" but in my experience they've never shown any interest in doing so even when I handled the babies in front of their mother. I have been bitten numerous times by various little wild spiders outdoors, mostly on the face when walking into their webs at night or on the hands while weeding the garden, but so far never by my house wolfies. And they have kept my house pest-free for 6 years. I love them.

    1. I love it! Nice story and I would whole heartily agree with you. I have a female Wolf currently and she is NOT aggressive. I handle most spiders and have for many years. Was only bit once and that was when I was eight years old; excited to catch an Golden Garden (Argiope)I squeezed her in my hand and of course she bit...anyone would bite in self defense and self-preservation! I'm am know on YT as "bob the spider hunter."

  28. I found one of these on my laminated picture on the floor. I took a college textbook and slammed it down squishing the spider. it scared me half to death

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  30. I am in college and my dorm is full of these, I found one that would span the rim of my coffee thermos in the bathroom and another much smaller yellow spider with tan legs was on my printer. I am an arachnophobic individual and hyperventilate when I see a spider. Are there any natural things I could put out to get rid of them, I've tried lavender, peppermint and cinnamon. Thank you.

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  32. If you see wolf spiders in your home and do not want them there I recommend smashing them. I saw 3 about a week ago and I never really seen them in my home before. Now i see them almost everyday in almost any room. They're extremely fast compared to most other spiders and their bite is a bitch. Just don't give them a chance to breed in your house.

  33. Had a bite on my arm a few weeks ago and then saw 1 of these in my house. It was about twice the size of a quarter. Same symptoms as described above. Not fun for sure


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