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Author: lakdasun (39 Posts)
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|One of the things that keep people away from tropical forests is the presence of this little creature, the “leech”. Barely longer than an inch or two, this little annelid scares off some, more than a venomous snake or a ferocious mammal.|
|The common answer to leeches is to simply apply a repellent on shoes and legs. Soap, Dettol and Salt are the most popular. Still ff you simply apply these on you legs or on your shoes, the wetness of the forest floor will tend to wash away the repellent soon.Following are few practical, tried and tested tips contributed by experienced hikers and nature lovers which go beyond the simple application of a repellent and therefore have proved to be more effective.|
Leech socks are the most effective and most convenient way of avoiding leech bites while hiking though rain forests of Sri Lanka. This simple technique involves wearing a tick, long, cloth sock covering up to the knee which will effectively prevent leech bites. To add to the plus points it is very simple to make your own pair of leech socks!
Get hold of a pair of old cotton trousers. Cut the two legs pieces, about 2 feet long from the bottom. Stitch the wide end and put an elastic band or a code around the narrower end. Wear your regular socks, then wear a cotton trouser and put on the leech sock over regular sock and the cotton trouser. Tie up the code or elastic band.
Wear you shoes or boots over this setup. The magic is that leeches cannot penetrate cotton (they can easily penetrate regular socks!). They will still get on to your shoe, may go in your boots and may even try to crawl up along your trouser from out side. But they can’t bite you! It’s also important to wear a t-shirt tucked in to the trouser and wear a belt juts to make sure that the brave ones walking up will not get a chance to move in
Using a repellent
Using a repelant can be effective if you can apply it in a way that does not easily get washed away when you walked in wet forest floor. See below several tips and tricks contributed by the members of Lakdasun forum.
Siddhalepa and Salonpas Spray over socks
In order to keep off the leeches we wear knee length rugged socks on which we apply Siddhalepa (a local, Ayrvedic, pain relief balm popular in Sri Lanka) and sprayed SalonPas. We found this to be effective in keeping off the leeches plus the excessive amounts of Siddhalepa meant we had no after the hike joint pains.
Socks soaked in Beetle leaves mixed water
When researching various methods of keeping leeches off we came across a natural repellent. That is to make a knee high pair of socks out of raw cloth, then soak it in water mixed with ground/chewed beetle leaves and then dry them by sun light before wearing the socks.
Tobacco & Salt Spray
Take 2 or 3 Tobacco leaves and cut them into small pieces, boiled them in water and add handful of salt to it. By using a sprayer you can apply it on your legs and this mixture is 100% active, tested several times and recommended. You will feel bit of an irritation but it would be better than the leech bite
Treating a Leech bite
(contributed by Priyanjan)
Next is the important thing to do. Clean the wound with a little water or with what ever solution one may have. Then on the wound, apply a little ash (Alu). Usually a wound caused by a leech bite will not heal quickly but will scratch for ages and ages. As I have experienced applying of ash will stop the wound from scratching. Although I am a non smoker I always carry two cigarettes when I enter an area that has these suckers. The next best is news paper ash. But one must remember not to create an unwanted fire.