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Leeches In My Pond!!!


I pulled out a solar powered water pump out of one of my ponds to clean the filter and found quite a few small leeches crawling about the casing. Perhaps those of you who have well established garden ponds have found that they have become residents in yours too. #@$&&-*$:0 I cried out! You see, a few years ago I lost about 60 fish in my ponds all beautiful fantails to a mink, not one left alive. Now was I about to go through the same thing with a slimy parasite?
My first question was how were they introduced to my pond. The answer to that was either the eggs or the leeches themselves came from snails, plants and or the fish themselves which I purchased for pond restocking purposes. Curious thing though, after netting many pond fish, snails, frogs and pollywogs I found no attached leeches. Ok what is going on here? So to answer that question I commenced to educate myself about them.
What I have learned is that there are two types of leeches which can inhabit a garden pond. First, the classic bloodsucker parasite one which was applied to those suffering from “dropsy” aka congestive heart failure to introduce its anticoagulants into the hosts blood stream to prevent life threatening blood clots from developing in circulation slowed by fluid swollen limbs. The second type of leech was one which resides in the muck and debris at the bottom of a pond feeding on that substrate. In order to find out which type I have my readings suggest that I make a leech trap. This trap is made out of a metal coffee can with small holes punched through the sides with a nail. Then a few rocks are placed in the bottom to help it sink to the bottom of the pond and then inside the coffee can it placed the bait which could be a few pieces of liver or kidney. The lid is then popped on and the tethered can is lowered into the pond. The cans contents is then checked a day later and a leech census is made. If very few or no leeches are found inside then the blood sucking parasitic type poses no problem, in fact, the can trap most likely cleared the pond of those leeches. Nothing in the trap would indicate that those leeches in the pond are the non parasitic debris eating type which are a good food source for the fish. So in the next few days I will find out what kind of leeches my ponds have using this simple method. Perhaps those GOYers with ponds might try this too.

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Oh dear. Thats the one member of the animal kingdom I cannot abide at any price. If you are going to investigate yours its good to hear you aren't as squeamish as me about them.

14 Jul, 2018


How interesting! Fascinating what wild life throws at us! Let us know which type of leech you got after your experiment. I have been plagued by maggots in my recycling caddy as my teenage sons never close the lid on it properly! Really can’t stand them and have threatened to leave some in my sons beds next time I come across them! Lol

15 Jul, 2018


They are closely related to earthworms from what I understand.

15 Jul, 2018


That is very interesting. We have a large pond/small lake in Sweden and I often wonder if there are any leeches in it. This is a good way to find out.

15 Jul, 2018


I have sent your blog to my son in Sweden.

15 Jul, 2018


This is useful info about the different types of British freshwater leeches, I believe there are about 50 types in the US:

I once found 5 or 6 fat black ones all curled up under stones in my bog garden (hibernating apparently). Freaked me out as they were about 6 ins long when stretched out - like this one:

18 Jul, 2018


Well, my leech collecting will be delayed a bit. I have developed Bell’s palsy-a paralysis of the facial nerve, right side in my case. As soon as I realized that I could not blink my right eye or make a full smile, I evaluated myself for stroke (the Cincinnati prehospital stroke scale). That being negative I went right to the hospital to start taking a heavy regimen of prednisone and took a blood draw to test for Lyme disease from a tick bite. The Lyme test was negative so the cause of my palsy was not gardening related. Luckily, my early intervention resulted in minimal facial disfigurement and I hope to get back most muscle function in the coming months.

22 Jul, 2018


Oh dear, Mike, I am so sorry to hear that. I looked it up as didn't know exactly what it was but I was pleased when I read it is a temporary condition, that at least is a mercy.
Do take care of yourself & keep taking the tablets. Hope recovery is quick for you.

23 Jul, 2018


We also have small leeches in our pond as well as the planarians you have subsequently found. They can also enter the pond when a bird drinks from the water and the leech hitches a ride in its nostrils. waterfowl often have them as hitchhikers. The good thing was the ones I have are not the fish leech Piscicola Geometra.
I once found a horse leech [Haemopis sanguisuga] under a stone in the garden. that was a huge one but a beautiful colour.

glad you are feeling better, Bell's palsy isn't that pleasant is it.

11 Aug, 2018


I know that birds were a vector for many forms of pond pond life, feet and feathers yes but I had never considered the nostrils. Thank you for that info. The cause of Bells Palsy as now being considered as a viral infection though much is still unknown as to type of virus and method of transmission although a little over a month ago one of the members of my skeet shooting club was afflicted by this same malady.

11 Aug, 2018


GF thank you very much for the UK “Know Your Leech Guide”. As of this time it appears that I have made a good recovery and I go back to the ophthalmologist in a few weeks to have my eyesight and eyelid function re-evaluated.

11 Aug, 2018


Thinking of you, Mike & fingers crossed for your evaluation & full recovery.

11 Aug, 2018

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