I am writing about a bug that I have been unable to find anywhere. It has been on my mind for several years and found this site. Hopefully, you can be of assistance. I was traveling with my father, daughter and friends to Black Rock Valley in Nevada. On our way, we stopped to have dinner somewhere in the western part of Utah or along I-80 in Nevada. We saw a bug in the corner of an entry way to a truck stop diner. We had never seen anything like it before and asked the locals who told us it was a ‘sand puppy’. The bug was reddish in color with a hairy body similar to what one might expect on a tarantula. The body was in two parts like an ant, with the head in particular resembling an ant with pinchers. The plump body was ringed like a bumble bee and very full. The locals told us that if the insect were injured and the ‘bee’ body part was unharmed, that it would uncoil and sliver away like a snake or centipede and regrow it’s body. I did not witness this first hand so that part is a mystery. The legs looked like a spider from the top (meaning the legs were bowed up and out and forming a circular pattern if you played dot-to-dot with the ends of the legs), but a cricket from the bottom (meaning they looked like cricket legs the way they attached to the body) and I believe it had more than 6 legs. It was about 2 1/2 inches in diameter including the legs. The locals also said that they bite ‘real hard’ and have even seen them bite a dog. They also said that the one we came upon was bigger than they had ever seen before. I looked over your pages and the closest thing it resembled was a potato bug, but none of them have hair bodies and the head didn’t look like an ant. Nor did it crawl like a cricket. It walked like a spider, smoothly. Any ideas?
Yours is the second letter asking about Sand Puppies, obviously a local name. The other letter also mentioned Potato Bugs which was our first guess. After reading your letter, we believe Sand Puppies might be Solpugids, also known as Sun Spiders or Wind Scorpions. They are not poisonous, but do have powerful jaws we would not want to be bitten by. There is an amazing photo circulating the web which we also have published on our Solpugid/Scorpion page of Iraqi Solpugids which get very large and are known as Camel Spiders.