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Leeches

The forecast is finally improving and the temperatures should start to improve. We are hopeful that we have had the last of the snow and spring is just around the corner. We are anxious to get going with putting in a new dock and are making plans to do that at the end of the month, provided that the field is no longer a mud bath!

The guys were hoping that the water level would be low for that job, but we noticed on our last visit that the water level has already risen. Standing in the water is not something they are looking forward to. Not because it will be cold, but because of the leeches.

Freshwater Leeches hide while resting amongst thick plant growth, under rocks or in mud on the lake bottom. They detect their prey by the vibrations it makes in the water. They do not need to eat often and can even go a year without a meal! However, my husband found that if you step in the lake and offer your foot, you might come out with a new friend!

DSC_3129 leech

There are several common methods for removing a leech, which we later found are not medically advisable. Some say to apply salt, or a chemical like BBQ lighter fluid or a flame to the leech, but whilst these methods will cause the leech to quickly detach, it will also cause the leech to regurgitate its stomach contents into the wound and the vomit might carry disease.

DSC_3133 leech

We didn’t know this until we had tried applying BBQ lighter fluid and salt. The leech didn’t fall off, so we then asked Google for some advice. It was a little late to read DO NOT…! We then read that an attached leech will detach and fall off on its own after about 20 minutes. Having got over the initial response of how to get this thing off, my husband decided to sit it out and wait for 20 minutes. The leech didn’t detach.

We then looked for more information about how to detach a leech and read that the recommended method to remove a leech is to use a flat, blunt object (credit card or fingernail) to break the seal of the oral sucker. I got out a credit card and hardly touched it before it fell off. It was dead and I guess had detached earlier, but somehow didn’t fall off.

DSC_3175 leach s

The interesting thing was that we had read that bleeding might continue for some time, because they secrete hirudin that has an anticoagulant property. We were ready to applying pressure to reduce the bleeding, but there was no blood. There was no mark! Thankfully my husband didn’t have to deal with the wound that normally itches as it heals. However, he isn’t keen on a repeat episode and hopes that water shoes will be enough to prevent coming out with more friends this spring!

 

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