What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Weird insect
Hello Bugman,
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?
Many thanks,

Hi Ridge,
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.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

9 Responses to Sand Puppy

  1. mtjoanna says:

    I’ve just discovered an insect that very nearly matches the description you give of a “hush puppy,” except that the body is hairless, and it is definitely an insect, not an arachnid. It has six legs, a reddish-brown head that looks very ant-like; the mid section is sand colored, but the (very large) rear end is black and white striped–though only on the top. The bottom of the insect is pale. When prodded, it thrusts it’s hind end as though it were trying to sting, like a wasp. I’ve looked at pictures of the wind scorpions, and this is not one of those.

  2. bugman says:

    Try looking up Jerusalem Cricket or Potato Bug.
    The Bugman

  3. Liz says:

    When I lived in Utah we had sand dunes near our house. We had sand puppies. We were talking about our young days and remembered the sand puppies so I looked it up. They did look like what was described but I remember they were a whitish beige color

  4. Bobby Jorgensen says:

    Actually Sand Puppies are extremely deadly. Living in Green River, WY, we had them everywhere. They look like a cross between a spider, scorpion and large ant. Their bites are extremely painful and they are very aggressive, protective creatures. If you step on one or it dies, you are not out of the clear. They have a worm like parasite inside them that squirms out and these are absolutely dangerous.

    Multiple counts of people falling extremely sick after sand puppy encounters in Green River. While there, a girl almost died while playing in a sand box. The Sand puppy, like its name, was crawling around in the sand and attacked the girl. Usually found in window wells and under rocks, and dark, somewhat secluded areas.

  5. christian says:

    ive seen these my whole life , im in utah and they have always been known as ………. SAND PUPPY’S . Didn’t know if they could bite hard . Anyway just saw one dead in the drive way this morning . i have a pic ,, go to my facebook and look if you’d like 🙂 . Jesus saves

    • Brice says:

      I have found only one potato bug here in Utah and never knew them as sand puppies. However there is another bug I am now wondering what it is that matches these descriptions only its small and it has pinchers top and bottom rather than side by side and we called those sand puppies but this post now makes me curious as to what we’ve been finding around here. Also their bite is very very painful!

  6. Matt says:

    Sand puppy is 100% a Jerusalem Cricket. had them around my entire life. It is not a sun spider and while they can bite, they are basically harmless.

  7. Jim says:

    Potato bugs or Jerusalem cricket or sand puppy are not poisonous they have a bite that the symptoms are like the flu.

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