So much of the pleasure of shooting in the low-country is spoilt by the attacks of insects of many kinds, that a few words as to how these annoyances may be minimized may be found useful.
The two principal insect pests are land-leeches and ticks. The former are principally found in the damp forests of the western parts of the Island, but a few may be picked up in certain forests of the north and east. In tramping through forest infested by them, it is almost impossible to escape them entirely, but a good many may be choked off by wearing field boots or leech-gaiters smeared with citronella oil. This oil is so powerfully scented, that boots anointed with it retain the odour a long time, even though the wearer tramps through wet jungle and grass all the morning.
Ticks are only found in the drier parts of the country, and principally in the rainless months from May to October ; they are seldom seen at other times of the year. There are two kinds, the most common being one about the size of a pin's head, of which hundreds may be seen swarming on a single leaf, and the other a round flat insect about the size of a split pea. There is no way of avoiding these creatures. Any one shooting in a part of the country infested by them will find it necessary to have all his clothes soaked in boiling water every day on returning from the jungle, in order to kill the ticks swarming over them. Their bite, especially when they get to tender parts, as between the toes, is very painful, and the tickling sensation produced by the crawling of the minute creatures over one during the night is very irritating.
Mosquitoes are found everywhere in the low-country, but are a real pest only after the rains between February and August. The forests are then full of them, especially in the neighbourhood of water, and they often make evening in camp a misery. They are little felt at other times, and almost entirely disappear during the height of the dry weather and also of the rains. The anopheles, the newly-discovered fever-giving musquito, has been discovered in not a few places in the low-country.
Not to scratch leech, tick or mosquito bites is advice constantly given, but seldom followed. Strong carbolic oil or other dressing should always be applied to them. Neglect of tick bites on the feet may result in a man being lamed for weeks.
Fleas are not such a pest in the low-country as in the hills. If it is necessary to occupy an old building or shed infested by them, the best way to destroy them is to sweep the floor with blazing torches of straw or dry grass. The same method may be employed to get rid of the armies of black ants which sometimes invade camps. At certain seasons of the year a grey fly called kùrûdi by the Tamils is a great annoyance. It stings almost as soon as it alights, and is most persistent in its attacks. Horses and cattle become almost unmanageable under its assaults. In the dry, still weather eye-flies are an intolerable nuisance, making it difficult to do any reading or writing during the day unless a coolie is employed to keep them off with a fan.
Among other undesirable creatures with which acquaintance is often made in camp are snakes, scorpions, centipedes, hornets, stinging caterpillars and red ants. The simplest way to avoid these is to take care not to camp near heaps of rubbish, or hollow or rotten trees, and to have the ground round the camp swept every day.