Leeches in the Rainforest, Sri Lanka


We headed in to the Sinharaja Rainforest which is a world heritage site. This forest is the respository of Sri Lanka’s endemic species of flora and fauna and a wonderland for birders (which we are not). (I am a “look…there’s a yellow bird” type birder.) It is also a major respository for leeches since it rains almost every day.

That was all I had to hear — leeches! Like most people, I picture “The African Queen” with Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart pulling giant leeches off themselves. But noo, contrary to that movie — most leeches are itsby, bitsy little things – some the size of a thread.

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just your "garden variety" millipede - enough to give me the creeps


As we entered the rainforest, our guide and forest guide stopped at this little shack and bought some “natural” leech repellent – it smelled like Vick’s Vapor Rub to me but they assured us that the smell would keep leeches off us. We rubbed it all over our sneakers and socks and started walking through the rainforest. I was also carrying a cannister of insect repellent hoping that maybe that would work also. The forest was beautiful but we found it difficult to concentrate as the ex-Marine and I were constantly looking at our feet, socks and bodies to see if a wayward leech managed to climb on us. It didn’t help that our forest guide was wearing flip-flops and kept stopping to pull mini-leeches off his feet! Ugh!!
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ex-Marine on leech patrol

After about an hour and a half walk, with sweat flying off our bodies in all directions, the leeches decided that the odor has worn off and one appeared on the ex-Marine’s shoes. That was it. We were OUT OF THERE!

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