Limatik (Blood-Sucking Leeches) in the Mountains & How to Deal with Them
Limatik or blood leeches are common parasites that can be found (not only within your circle of friends but also) in many forested mountains in the Philippines. Their colors vary from black, brown, to striped (green and yellow) varieties. These leeches grow rapidly during rainy season and they suck blood from their host which they detect through their impressive sense of vibration. Their bites can be very itchy and may cause swelling, wounding, and even scarring.
Limatiks are already part of hiking in the Philippines. Anyone who is passionate about mountaineering will definitely encounter these blood-sucking leeches one way or another. This blog entry aims to help adventure-seeking individuals on getting rid of these sucker parasites and preventing them from getting on their way.
HOW TO PREVENT LIMATIK BITES
- Start with the use of appropriate clothing. Wearing leggings and rash guards will help a lot to prevent limatik from getting in touch with your skin as compared to wearing trekking pants, shorts, or tees. Also, choose light-colored garments to easily detect the dark-colored leeches. Take them off before they bite.
- Many climbers I know are using Off Lotion in warding off the blood-sucking leeches. Others said rubbing detergent soap or spraying a liquid mixture of eucalyptus oil (white flower), omega pain killer, and water on your skin and on the surfaces of your clothing can also keep the leeches away. The liquid mixture may have a very strong scent but affirmed to be very effective.
- From experience, I recommend an alcohol-based spray. That’s what I used when we climbed Mt. Natib, Mt. Makiling, Mt. Bulusan, and Pantingan Peak — mountains that are known for their abundance of limatik. So far, I got not even a single limatik bite in all those climbs!
- When we climbed Luzon 3-2-1, we discovered a more efficient way to ward off limatik. It was introduced to us by our guide in Tawangan trail (we took Pulag via Tawangan-Ambangeg). We just wrapped rock salt in a piece of cloth and attached it to a two-foot long stick. Every time a limatik clinged to us we just damped the moistened cloth with salt to the leech and presto! The blood-sucker giggled, wiggled and wriggled in pain and let go. I call it the “limatik magic wand”! Check the photo below:
WHAT TO DO WHEN A LIMATIK ENTERS YOUR EYE
When a limatik enters your eye, do not try to pull it off as such action can cause further irritation and/or infection. Just use eye drop solution (so make sure to bring one if you plan to climb a limatik-infested mountain). Continuously drop the solution to the affected eye until the leech lets you go. If no eye drop solution is available, you just have to bear with the limatik in your eye until it takes off by itself. Yeah, scary piece of sh*t!
WHAT TO DO WHEN A LIMATIK BITES YOU
- Do not pull the limatik from your skin as it may cause infection. They have little, almost invisible, “jaws” that might be retained in the bitten site. One best way to remove the biting leech off your skin is by sliding your fingernail or a thin but sturdy piece of material (e.g. plastic card) beneath its sucker until it loses its suction.
- Generously wash the limatik bite with a soap. A wound caused by limatik bite can bleed a lot because their saliva is anticoagulant. Just cover it with a bandage after washing.
- On trail, it’s better to have some salt solution ready to dilute the limatik’s anticoagulant saliva and prevent too much bleeding. You can also use cayenne pepper (powder); it is said to be a powerful coagulant.
- Limatik bites are itchy but try your best not to scratch the wound as it may get aggravated. Take antihistamine if needed.
Do you have photos about these mountain leaches or snaps of your limatik experience that you wanna be featured in our Facebook Page, Love. Eat. Wander.? Send it to us!
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