Ticks vs Fleas: Difference and Comparison

Ticks and Fleas are common bugs that can transmit diseases to animals. They have some similarities, like they are external parasites. That means that these insects live on other animals to feed themselves.

These animals that they feed on are called hosts. But they are much more different from each other in appearances, lifestyles, habits, and in their treatments as well.

Key Takeaways

  1. Ticks are arachnids that attach to their host for feeding, while fleas are insects that live on their host and feed by biting.
  2. Ticks are larger and slower-moving than fleas, while fleas are small and can jump long distances.
  3. Ticks can transmit serious diseases such as Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, while fleas can transmit diseases such as plague and typhus.

Ticks vs Fleas

The difference between Ticks and Fleas is that the tick has a 6-8-leg arachnid, a joint-legged invertebrate animal. And they cannot fly or jump. On the other hand, Fleas have 6 legs; they are wingless, but they can jump. Indeed, they belong to the Siphonaptera order of taxonomic rank, which is used to classify the organisms.

Ticks vs Fleas

Ticks are external parasites that belong to two major families: Ixodidae (Hard ticks) and Argasidae (Soft ticks). Ticks are found all around the world, but they are mostly found in warm and humid climatic areas.

Adult ticks have pear-shaped bodies and are 3 to 5 mm in length. They have four stages in their lifecycle.

Fleas are external parasites that are brown. Mostly, the adult fleas are 3 mm in length. And their bodies are flattened sideways to let them move through their prey or host’s feathers. Fleas don’t have wings, but they have the ability to jump.

They also have four stages in their lifecycle.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonTicksFleas
What are they?Ticks are external parasites, a 6-8 leg arachnid who cannot fly or jump.Fleas are external parasites belonging to the Siphonaptera order. They can jump.
LifespanThey can live up to a few weeks to 3 years.They can live for 3 to 4 months.
HostsThey live on more than one host during their lifetime.They can live only on one host during their lifetime.
ClimateTicks can survive near-freezing temperatures.Fleas can live in warm temperatures. They cannot survive freezing temperatures.
DiseasesThey transmit diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.They transmit diseases like tapeworm and bartonellosis.

What are Ticks?

Ticks are external parasites that feed off other animals like cats, dogs, etc. They are 6-8 legged Arachnids, which means they are related to spiders. Ticks have pear-shaped bodies. The adult fleas are up to 3 to 5 millimetres in length.

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They have sharp mouthparts through which they cut through the skin and bite to access blood. They leave irritated red skin behind, which can burn a little, too.

Ticks cannot fly or jump. They wait in the position called questing to climb on their host. In questing, the ticks hold their first pair of legs outstretched.

They use their third and fourth pair of legs to hold onto the grass and climb to their host by pushing themselves forward. Ticks feed on multiple hosts in their lifespan.

Their lifecycle has four stages: egg – six-legged larva – eight-legged nymph – adult. Leaving the eggs of ticks, ticks feed on hosts in all three stages of their lives.

Indeed, ticks are very patient predators, and they can wait for the right prey for an extended period of time. Ticks can live up to a few weeks to three years.

Also, ticks can lay thousands of eggs at a time, however, they don’t live much after that. They also transmit deadly diseases like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, etc.


What Are Fleas?

Fleas are external parasites as well. They belong to the Siphonaptera order of taxonomic rank. They are brown in color mostly and are 3 mm long at the most.

Fleas are wingless creatures; they cannot fly, but they can jump really far. Fleas can live up to 3 to 4 months.

Fleas mostly live only on one host during their lifespan, mostly. They can go from one to another host, but that is very rare. They don’t feed off multiple hosts.

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Their lifecycles have four stages: egg – larva – pupa – adult. Only adult fleas feed off the hosts. They don’t feed on hosts in the rest stages of their lifecycle. Fleas start laying eggs just after they start feeding.

And they can lay up to 20 to 40 eggs per day for weeks as long as they are feeding and alive. They lay eggs wherever the host goes, which means fleas will not leave the host that easily.

Fleas prefer to live in warm temperatures. Indeed, if they jump on you, they will try to bite you at warm places in your body like armpits or groin. Fleas transmit diseases like tapeworm, flea allergy dermatitis, and bartonellosis, etc.


Main Differences Between Ticks And Fleas

  1. Ticks are parasites that feed on different or multiple hosts in their lifespan, while Fleas feed on only one host throughout their lifespan.
  2. Ticks can live from a few weeks to 3 years, while Fleas can live up to 100 days, that is 3 and a half months.
  3. Ticks can lay thousands of eggs at a time, but they don’t live much longer after laying a huge number of eggs. On the other hand, Fleas can lay 20 to 40 eggs per day for several eggs as long as they are feeding off the host.
  4. Ticks can survive in near-freezing temperatures, however, fleas cannot survive that low temperature. Although, both ticks and fleas prefer warm temperatures.
  5. Ticks can spread more deadly diseases than Fleas. Indeed, Ticks are harder to kill than fleas.
  6. Ticks cannot fly or jump, but fleas can jump.
Difference Between Ticks and Fleas
  1. https://parasitesandvectors.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13071-016-1719-7
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877959X14000326

Last Updated : 27 August, 2023

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