What Are Leeches?


Leeches look like little worms because they are worms! They’re found on every continent except Antarctica and most of them feed on blood. Did you know there is a word for leech in almost every language? There are a few species of leeches that do not feed on blood. Instead, they are carnivorous and prey on small invertebrates like other worms. Some leeches are highly specialized, feeding only on specific animals. Most species of leech live in aquatic or marine environments, in either saltwater or freshwater. The leeches that I study are different from others because they live on land. 

What does this creature or plant look like?:

These land leeches are small. They are typically about 2 cm in length. These leeches are covered in intricate patterns and come in many different colors from neon green to warm orange to deep green and black. They move like inchworms, extending their bodies, latching to a surface with their jaws, and inching their hind suckers forward. Sometimes they even jump to get around! Check out my video to see them in action: https://www.reachtheworld.org/mais-expedition-madagascar/gallery/leech-behavior

How did I feel when I saw it?:

The first time I saw a leech, it was in Madagascar in 2014 while I was studying abroad as a student.