WikiPedia.org states: In Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, and Jordan, they often reach hundreds of meters in height, and are referred to as “djin” (genies or devils). In the southwestern United States, a dust devil is sometimes called a “dancing devil” or a “sun devil.” The Navajo refer to them as (good or bad) ghosts/spirits of dead Navajos. The Australian “willy-willy” or “whirly-whirly”is thought to derive from Yindjibarndi or a neighboring language. In Aboriginal myths willy willies represent spirit forms. They are often quite scary spirits and parents may warn the children that if they misbehave a spirit will emerge from the spinning vortex of dirt and chastise them. There is a story of the origin of the Brolga where a bad spirit descends from the sky and captures the young being and abducts her by taking the form of a willy-willy. Egypt has its fasset el ‘afreet or “ghost’s wind.” Among the Kikuyu of Kenya, the dust devil is known as the “women’s devil/demon.” Watch as one is driven across Mars
WikiPedia.org continues…A “dust devil” is a strong, well-formed, and relatively long-lived whirlwind, ranging from small (half a meter wide and a few meters tall) to large (over 10 meters wide and over 1000 meters tall). The primary vertical motion is upward. Dust devils are usually harmless, but rare ones can grow large enough to threaten both people and property. They are comparable to tornadoes in that both are a weather phenomenon of a vertically-oriented rotating column of air. Most tornadoes are associated with a larger parent circulation, the mesocyclone on the back of a supercell thunderstorm. Dust devils form as a swirling updraft under sunny conditions during fair weather, rarely coming close to the intensity of a tornado.