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How to Repel Leeches

By Megan Hippler

Things Needed

  • Pantyhose
  • Eucalyptus oil or soap
  • Tobacco
  • Salt

Although they are an important part of the ecosystem, leeches frighten people because they digest blood. Leeches do not spread diseases, and they take a minimal amount of blood before harmlessly dropping off the skin. However, bites itch, and bites to sensitive areas, such as on your eyes or in your nose, can be serious problems. While some commercial pesticides deter and kill leeches, habitat changes and natural deterrents prove less invasive and more effective.

Dress Appropriately

Wear thick socks or specially made “leech socks,” which tie at the top.

Wear pantyhose over your socks to prevent leeches from squeezing between the weave.

Wear long pants and closed-toed shoes.

Tuck your shirt into your pants.

Tuck your pants into your shoes.

Movements

Avoid brushing against low vegetation.

Keep moving as much as possible in areas where leeches can be found.

Stand up straight rather than leaning against vegetation.

Natural Deterrents

Spray eucalyptus oil on your pants and socks, or use eucalyptus soap on your socks and let them dry with the lather still in them.

Mix raw tobacco and water and use it on your socks and pants.

Mix salt and water and use it on all exposed skin.

Warning

Do not pull the leech off once it is attached or the mouth parts can break off under your skin. Instead, use your fingernail to dislodge the suckers from the side.

Do not burn the leech. This removal method causes the leech to vomit onto your open wound.

About the Author

Born and raised in West Virginia, Megan Hippler has been writing environmental articles since 2008. Her work has appeared on the websites of various state government departments. Hippler has a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies from Hollins University.