What is the Difference Between Ticks and Fleas

What is the Difference Between Ticks and Fleas

Often lumped into one category when considering pest control, the differences between ticks and fleas are vast and various. While they are both pesky parasites to be aware of, their life cycles, habits, and even the diseases they carry vary significantly.

Here’s the lowdown on the differences and dangers of both of these pests as well as what to do to prevent them.

Insect vs Arachnid 

Known for jumping or crawling, fleas are wingless insects with six legs and antennae. Ticks, which you can tell by a close look, are akin to spiders. Their eight legs classify them as arachnids that have no antennae.


Fleas are small, coming in between 1/16” and 1/8” long, and almost invisible to the naked eye. Ticks can be up to 1/4” in size and grow bigger as they engorge themselves on the blood of their hosts. The two are similar in color, usually a dark brown, but ticks may have more color variation on their bodies than fleas.

Number of Hosts

While fleas typically settle down with one host for their whole lives, ticks are little less content and will transfer from one host to another depending on life stage. They’ll even switch host types if given the opportunity, jumping from humans to dogs to snakes and lizards throughout their life stages.

Time on Host

Fleas are loyal little creatures in that they prefer just one host to settle onto and remain there for their entire 100 day lifespan. Ticks are likely to spend a few days or weeks on one host and then move to another depending on access. Ticks can’t jump so their mode of transportation includes wait for a host to come by and attaching to it.

See Also: What Pests are Harmful to Your Pets?


An individual adult flea will typically live for around 3 months or more. The lifespan of ticks may last from just a few weeks to a maximum of three years.


The first sign of fleas often comes from a scratching pet and develops from there. Ticks require a bit more investigation to be found as they like to hide in the scalp or underneath clothing. A tick-check after being outdoors is the best way to discover them. Otherwise a tick may eventually be discovered through the discomfort of its presence.


Only adult fleas will feed off of the host, leaving a series of bites that appear as little red dots. Ticks need to have a host to survive throughout all stages of their lives, latching onto one place and staying there for some time before moving onto the next host.

Eggs and Reproduction

Adult female fleas lay eggs while on their hosts, producing between 20-40 eggs each day. Adult female ticks will fall away from the host and then lay their eggs all at once, numbering in the thousands.

See Also: 8 Facts You Didn’t Know About Ticks

Climate Preference

Fleas prefer mild climates and like to spend their time inside where it’s warm. Ticks, on the other hand, don’t mind the cold weather and can be found outside even in temperatures that are near freezing.


Fleas are usually contracted by pets and brought indoors. Proper pest control includes using flea prevention products for your pet, vacuuming your home regularly, washing pet bedding and toys regularly, and keeping your yard clear of leaves, debris, long grass, and clippings. Tick prevention for pets and humans can be performed through the use of repellents (containing DEET) as well as performing regular tick checks on pets and family members when coming inside.


Fleas are less known to spread disease, but they can bring tapeworm, bartonellosis, typhus, cat-scratch disease, and even the plague to pets and/or humans. Ticks are able to spread potentially deadly diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, and Bourbon fever.

For peace of mind related to problems with fleas, ticks, or other pests, contact a pest control professional. Your local pest control expert can provide all of the tools and services you need to keep your family and pets safe. Cypress Creek has provided quality, dependable Houston pest control service to more than 12,000 residential and commercial properties in the greater Houston area.

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