Difference between Fleas and Ticks
By Theydiffer - February 5, 2016

Fleas and ticks can be alarming and can even be a danger to the family, but which is which? Are ticks more dangerous than fleas or is it vice versa? How can we distinguish a flea from a tick?



A fully blood-fed tick with an unfed tick

Ticks are considered small arachnids that can measure from ¼ to 1/8 of an inch long. Like fleas, they live by hematophagy on the blood of mammals, birds, amphibians and sometimes even reptiles. They usually flourish more in places with warm and humid climates due to the certain amount of moisture they need to undergo metamorphosis. They are commonly seen on domestic animals and can cause considerable harm. They undergo a life cycle that requires three blood meals, once at the larva stage, once at the nymph stage, and lastly at the adult stage.

Tick’s life cycle:

  • Egg: laid by a female tick (can lay up to 5000 eggs depending on the size and amount of blood it ingests)
  • Larvae: hatches 2 to 5 weeks afterwards and will look for a blood host for 3 to 7 days. Later will molt.
  • Nymphs: After 2 weeks, a larva will develop into a nymph and then feed for 5 to 10 days and then develop into an adult.
  • Adult: feeds on a host for about 2 months. Female ticks will then lay its eggs again.

As in the case of a flea, tick bites can cause different diseases including Rocky Mountain spotted fever (also known as blue disease, a lethal illness that can cause fever, nausea, emesis, severe headache, muscle pain, and lack of appetite) and Lyme disease (affects multiple body systems and can cause headache, muscle soreness, fever, and much more).

Fleas vs Ticks

What’s the difference between fleas and ticks? Both live by hematophagy, causing harm to their hosts, and laying thousands of eggs, but they actually have their differences.

Fleas are insects, while ticks are arachnids, but that’s just the start. Fleas need fewer hosts than ticks, they don’t require the three hosts cycle that ticks need. The lifespan of a flea can go up to 100 days, while a tick can go for up to 3 years. Also, fleas lay their eggs on hosts, unlike ticks that fall off the host and lay eggs someplace else. For their ability to survive, ticks are known to be tougher. Both being a parasite and a vector, fleas can transmit bartonellosis and tapeworm while ticks can transmit potentially deadly diseases including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Comparison Chart

Seeks a single hostSeeks different hosts
AgileNot agile
Lives up to 100 daysLives up to 3 years
Lays eggs on hostsLays eggs wherever
Over 2,000 speciesOver 800 species
Can cause diseasesCan cause deadly diseases