Signs & Symptoms of a Wolf Spider Bite

Updated April 17, 2017

The wolf spider is a regular visitor in many homes across America every single winter as they attempt to escape the cold weather. Because the wolf spider spends such a large amount of time near people, it will sometimes bite. How do you know if a wolf spider has bitten you? Is the bite a serious one?


Identifying the wolf spider is a pretty big challenge, but it is important to recognising the symptoms of a spider bite. Because there are over 150 species of wolf spider, recognising the correct one can be important. Fortunately, almost all the American species of wolf spider are very hesitant to bite. The most common wolf spider is about an inch across including the legs. They are usually brown and have vertical stripes along the body. Many have called these "union jack" stripes.


Being bitten by a wolf spider can range from mildly painful to excruciating. Experts in the field of spiders cannot seem to agree as to why. The most common consensus is that it depends on the amount of venom that is injected. Some very common signs of wolf spider bites include localised pain and swelling, and extreme itching. There have been claims of necrotic reactions in wolf spider bites, but this has not been confirmed. Occasionally one might have a major reaction to the venom and have a fever, dangerous swelling or increased blood pressure. This is very rare and is similar to a reaction to bee sting in those that are allergic.

Medical Significance

Studies on wolf spider bites have shown that they are largely uneventful medically, and that the worst of it is usually the pain and itching. There are some people who appear to be especially sensitive to the venom, and they should be quite careful around all insects or spiders. Wolf spider bites are largely treat at home in the United States. There are some wolf spiders such as the Brazilian wolf spider overseas, that pack a more serious bite. Even those are generally not dangerous to a healthy adult.

Similar Species

Where the majority of problems come in with wolf spiders is that they resemble other spiders in their range. More specifically, they are sometimes confused with the very dangerous brown recluse, or fiddleback, spider. Confusing these two spiders is not hard to do, and it happens quite often in the areas where they share territory. The brown recluse has a violin shaped marking that points towards the rear of the spider, and it is much more toxic than the wolf spider. When in doubt, you should assume it was the recluse that bit you.


If you are bitten by a wolf spider, and your health is poor in general, you should always seek medical attention. People with poor immune systems tend to suffer greatly from any spider bite, and the wolf spider is no exception. The same holds true for children and the elderly. These wolf spider bite situations should be dealt with as medical emergencies to be on the safe side.

Avoiding Bites

The wolf spider likes to hang around ground clutter, and is found in the home quite often. The biggest key to avoid a wolf spider bite is to leave them be. Wolf spiders will not bite you unless you provoke them, and even then they are hesitant. These spiders are aggressive hunters, but they shy away from humans every time. Give them an avenue of escape and your spider encounter will be over quickly. Leave the wolf spider alone and you will find that they are quick to do the same.

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About the Author

Based in Greensboro, Rodney Southern has been writing and editing sports and nature articles for going on 10 years. His articles have appeared in "Nicean" magazine, "The Sporting News" website and countless other online venues. Southern was the 2008 Ultimate Call for Content National Award Winner. He attended Guilford Tech and was trained as an EMT in the Army.