How to Kill Leeches: 12 Steps (with Pictures)

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How to Kill Leeches: 12 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Kill Leeches: 12 Steps (with Pictures)

Leeches are normally aquatic invertebrates of the earthworm family. To feed, they cling to the host to suck blood. This can be quite disgusting and uncomfortable for someone who is attacked by them. However, just follow the step by step below to remove them correctly from the body, without danger or worry. If leeches are very common in your area, you can also take steps to control the population.


Method 1 of 2: Getting the leeches out of the body

Kill Leeches Step 1

Step 1. Try to release the suction cups

Take a look at the thin front of the leeches' body and locate the suction cup. Place a fingernail or finger on the surrounding skin and run it under the suction cup, pushing it to the side. Repeat on the back of the suction cup and push the leech away.

  • Push the leech away as you release it from the body. She will try to cling to you again.
  • Remember to start with the thinnest tip of the leech, which corresponds to the animal's head.
  • After removing the leech, dispose of it in a place away from water. You can also sprinkle it with salt to kill it, but don't do this while it's still attached to your body.
Kill Leeches Step 2

Step 2. Wait for the leech to drop

The leech will fall out of its body on its own after drinking enough blood. This usually takes about 20 minutes. If you cannot safely release the leech, let it stop feeding on its own. While this is a bit uncomfortable, it is neither painful nor dangerous.

Throw away the leech after it falls. You can also kill her with salt, but only do so after she's fallen

Kill Leeches Step 3

Step 3. Stop the bleeding

Leeches have anticoagulant enzymes that make the blood flow more freely. If the bite area continues to bleed after the leech has been removed or dropped, press it down with a clean cloth or gauze until the bleeding stops.

Kill Leeches Step 4

Step 4. Clean the wound to prevent infection

The leeches can leave behind a small wound in the bite area. Wash it with warm soapy water, apply an antibacterial ointment to the area and protect the wound with a band-aid. Get medical attention if the wound starts to become infected.

Kill Leeches Step 5

Step 5. Don't try to pull out the leech anyway

Leeches are flexible and difficult to hold. Even if you manage to get them out of the skin, you are at serious risk of making the situation worse by causing part of the jaw to remain attached to your body and cause an infection.

Kill Leeches Step 6

Step 6. Do not burn or poison the leech to release it

Many traditional methods of removing leeches involve placing a lighted match or some other flame near the animal's body or pouring salt, alcohol, vinegar, or some other substance onto the animal. While this can help the leech to break free, it can also cause the leech to vomit stomach contents into the wound, causing an infection.

Kill Leeches Step 7

Step 7. See a doctor if necessary

If you have a leech stuck in any sensitive part of the body, such as the eye or an orifice such as a nostril, vagina or penis, it is imperative that you seek professional help. Doctors are trained in the use of specific techniques and equipment for removing leeches, in addition to being able to quickly treat possible infections and other complications.

  • Get medical attention if you notice any signs of infection, irritation, or any other type of symptom after removing a leech yourself.
  • Symptoms of infection include redness, swelling and purulence at the wound site, as well as generalized pain and fever.

Method 2 of 2: Getting leeches out of the water

Kill Leeches Step 8

Step 1. Set a trap

Separate a metal can with a removable lid. Open small holes in the lid. Then put a few pieces of raw meat into the tin, close it and tie string around it. Place the can in a shallow place with signs of leeches. The animals will be attracted to the meat and enter the can. Take it out of the water and eliminate the leeches.

  • The leeches are most active during the summer. Set up and examine the trap daily in the warmer months and eliminate the bugs you catch. Repeat until the trap no longer catches any more leech.
  • The exact size of the holes will depend on the species of leeches. If you don't catch any pet with the trap, keep increasing or decreasing the hole until you get it.
Kill Leeches Step 9

Step 2. Bring ducks to the infestation area

Some ducks eat leeches and can help reduce the population. However, if you try to attract ducks with feed, you may end up increasing the level of phosphorus in the water and stimulating algae growth. Some species of ducks that eat leeches are as follows:

  • Collared Pochard (Aythya collars).
  • Wood duck (Aix sponsa).
  • Wild duck (Cairina moschata).
Kill Leeches Step 10

Step 3. Encourage the growth of sea bream and largemouth bass populations

These fish are natural predators of leeches and can help keep them under control. However, the method is only effective in closed water bodies such as lakes.

Kill Leeches Step 11

Step 4. Check the level of waste and plants in the water

The excess of vegetation and organic residues in lakes and ponds is one of the main factors responsible for the growth of the leeches population. Try to restrict vegetation to 10% of the water surface and remove or control excess to fight leech infestations. Here are some tips:

  • Minimize the use of feed for fish and ducks. Waste generated by food contains nutrients that can increase aquatic vegetation.
  • Manually remove vegetation. The ideal is to remove the plants root and all and discard them far from the water so that the residues do not stimulate the growth of vegetation.
  • Zoom in or deepen the lake. The deeper it goes, the harder it will be for plants to take root.
  • Lower the water level. Especially in the colder months, shallow water will make it harder for plants to establish themselves.
  • Line the bottom of the lake. Placing a plastic or mineral liner at the bottom of the lake can discourage the growth of aquatic vegetation.
  • Insert herbivorous animals into the habitat. Many ducks, geese, turtles, insects, slugs, crayfish and fish eat aquatic plants, reducing vegetation. The best option for this method is grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella).
  • Apply an aquatic herbicide. Some of the most used are the following: Copper Chelate Compounds, Fluridone (Sonar), 2, 4-D, Glyphosate (Roundup, Mata-Mato), Diquat and Endothall (Aquathol, Hydrothol). Keep in mind, however, that they can have side effects and can even kill some fish. The products also need to be applied multiple times, as dead vegetation decomposes in the water, stimulating the growth of new plants.
  • Carefully follow herbicide instructions and consult with the Department of the Environment before inserting a new and potentially invasive species into any habitat.
Kill Leeches Step 12

Step 5. Use chemical control methods

Copper sulfate pentahydrate is widely used to control leech populations. The recommended dose is 5 ppm. However, this approach is lethal to all life forms present in the water, including fish and other animals. Use it only in closed water and without fish.

Copper sulfate pentahydrate is toxic and must be handled with care. Strictly follow product application and safety guidelines


  • To prevent leeches from sticking to your body, cover the exposed parts of your skin whenever you enter a pond with a possible infestation.
  • There are between 700 and a thousand species of leeches around the world. Although some are terrestrial, most of them live in water.
  • Although they can cause discomfort, leeches do not transmit disease to humans. In fact, they used to be used a lot in traditional medicine. Currently, some treatments still use leeches and derivatives.
  • Ask permission to remove leeches from public areas or a private lake that you don't own.

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