In Australia (and elsewhere) it is quite common to encounter these beasties in wetter areas. They avoid sunny patches. They do you no harm, though many (like me) have an allergic reaction to their ‘bites’, so it is good to avoid them as much as you can. I have already recommended this antihistamine Anthisan ointment to treat allergic reactions to bites. It works well on these leech bites too. Here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/insects-can-ruin-a-camping-trip/ (you will have to order it over from a NZ pharmacy) NB the practice of tucking your trousers into your socks and wearing long-sleeve shirts in ‘leechy’ spots such as rainforest areas http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-personal-hygiene/.
You can watch the whole movie here:
When you put up your tent for the night you don’t want to erect it on a hundred leeches and have them wriggling all over you all night. I have seen shady areas where when you wave your warm hand over the ground a hundred leeches will stand up and wave at you! You need to carry a small atomiser containing surface spray such as ‘Baygon’ (which can be bought from some supermarkets in bulk – ie not in spray cans) to suit such decanting. Atomisers of various sizes are available all over (try eBay). You will need to match the size to your need. You need to be able to spray the entire footprint of your tent plus an area say a metre around it. If/when you do have a leech attach to you, remember it will do you no harm (indeed they have been used for centuries for their supposed health benefits) and will eventually drop off. If you want to hurry that along a bit, a lighted cigarette or some salt will move them on mighty quickly.
If (like my wife) you don’t like the idea of sleeping on surface spray, carry enough salt in a snap lock bag to sprinkle the same area. This will kill and keep leeches at bay too.The small amount of salt left behind in such high rainfall areas will not harm the environment.
First Published on: Dec 12, 2015