Land Leeches are blood sucking ectoparasites that feed on mammals. They are common in tropical and sub-tropical rainforests. Leeches are not known to spread any diseases but their bites cause haemorrhaging that is difficult to stop. As wounds stop bleeding, localised inflammation and itching is common at the bite site. Most land leech species remain on the ground while awaiting a host then attach themselves to a person’s footwear and climb upwards. Once they are attached to a host, they are not easily removed. Some species do climb to higher vegetation during wet weather to await a host.
There are two primary methods of protection against Leeches, leech socks and repellents. Leeches have damp skin, making them very sensitive to various substances and chemicals. Repellents in leech infested areas are often applied to shoes, boots and to trousers tucked into socks from the ankle to the knee (with application to areas above the knee in areas where climbing land Leeches are prevalent).