Lake Lanier: Leeches latching onto swimmers in droves

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There's something lurking in Lake Lanier.

“They’re everywhere out here,” one visitor said.

The creatures are small in size but sure to suck the fun out of your day.

“They're not very big, but come back in the fall, and they'll be pretty big,” Richard Pickering laughed.


Pickering showed one that latched onto his glove. “It’s trying to suck my blood,” he said.

Pickering told FOX 5 News in his four decades of diving at Lake Lanier, he's never seen leeches more active.

“Usually, it's just one or two or a few in the entire summer, but for some reason this year they're out here in droves,” Pickering said.

What started as a celebratory dive for his son and friends' graduation morphed into a scene straight out of the classic movie Stand by Me.

He said the group went diving in shallower water for safety reasons, but when they came out, they had about 30 to 40 leeches all over them.

“One of the boys actually had one attached to his privates,” Pickering said. “As you can imagine, it was not pleasant by any stretch of the imagination.”

Social media is flooded by complaints from all around the lake, but the Army Corps of Engineers told FOX 5 News they have not received any reports from the public. One spokesperson added that they have not observed any extenuating factors that could cause an increase in leeches, but they are looking into it further.

While the worm-like creatures may make you squirm, leeches in this region don't suck enough blood to cause harm, according to Aquascape Environmental.

If you find a leech attached to your skin, you shouldn't just pull it off because its mouthparts could get stuck and cause an infection. Environmental experts say you should expose the leech to salt or heat to force it to let go.