SassafrasBirdsnest ferns and Syzygium floribundum

Our experience with Leeches and Ticks.

Unless you threaten them in some way most inhabitants of Sassafras would sooner get away from you.  They usually only attack once they perceive you as a threat.  Moving through the bush too quietly is not a good idea, I don't take any care with how hard I walk on the ground, though I do take about where I place each foot especially when I'm not on a path.

How do leeches and Ticks get on you?

Leaches and Ticks are exceptions to the rule, they will wait for you to come by, you are their prey.  Ticks seem to wait on stems and twigs, Leeches will wait on branches, twigs or rocks or fallen leaves, anywhere exposed when it is damp or humid.

Leeches can spring a short distance though they usually just crawl in their looping fashion onto you once you stop or sometimes they can drop onto you.  Ticks rely more on just crawling onto you.

How do we keep most of them off?

Tropcal Strength Aerogard, 2 or 3 squirts in the gumboots.  I wear very thin ankle length socks, so I don't get any Aeroguard on the feet.  I wear gumboots for leg and ankle protection, better all round than gaiters, Sassafras is a land of ridges and gullies with narrow paths, ankles work hard enough, hot gumboots are only a problem out in the open not in the forest.  If it is wet and warm and I know Leeches will be out in force then I might also do around the top of the trousers, that is usually quite sufficient to stop both Ticks and Leeches, though I do check my kneck from time to time.  In absolutely prime Leech weather I'll also spray the upper brim of my wire edged hat.  Why such a stout hat?  It keeps the vegetation out of my eyes and most of the Ticks and Leeches away as well.  I always wear leather gloves, there a lots of  sharp and raspy physically vicious plants, they don't sting but will tear you open.  I wear microfibre long pants and a one piece microfibre top my wife made for me.  Pretty much armour plated I guess.  Microfibre breathes well, is light, very hard to puncture in any serious way, drys quickly and lasts for years. Any inner lining in the pants is cut out, too hot.

While I'm on the subject, yes Leeches can make you bleed for a while which can be messy.  Powdered Black Pepper is an efficient way to staunch persistent bleeders, under a bandaid to hold it in place.  Otherwise just sit or lie down with affected part facing upwards, give the bleeding a chance to stop.  (Now don't do this till you've got back to the house or car if away from home, or they'll just find you again, they home in on infra red targets, quickly.)  This might take up to 10 or 15 minutes if the hole was made by a big Leech.  On a really bad day, if I forgot the Aerogard, I might loose a couple of teaspoons, including the donation to betterment of Leech kind......  Leeches and Ticks are not year round problems, it depends on the weather and the time of year.

Removing Ticks

Ticks are of more concern.  Full stop sized Ticks can, after an hour or two, start to make you feel a little off, enough warning to make you wonder, where are you itchy, where is the  red whelt.  Apply said Tropical Strength Aerogard, it kills them quickly, drink water.  Larger Ticks should be pulled out immediately.  If you have fingernails this is easy, take care not to squeeze the Ticks abdomen, this will pour more toxin into you promptly.  Grab it by the head parts, which may be hidden by swollen skin, which you might have to squeeze around the edges to reveal them, they do not actually burrow in, except for the mouth parts.  Pull, it can take a bit of force to make them disengage, you will hear the click as they let go, they do grip tenaciously.

All of the Ticks in our area are in fact Paralysis Ticks, they change colour as they age, from black to brown to white, when they can be particularly nasty.  However, Ticks make their prescence felt if they are of anything beyond tiny, itches, swelling, feeling yuck or off, headache or worse, much worse, if you ignore the symptoms.  A couple of big drinks of water are usually enough for us to relieve the symptoms very quickly.

Other ticks can be worse, we have experienced Ticks around Hornsby, the Northern edge of Sydney, south of  Kuringai Chase National Park, they give far worse and faster side effects than ours do.