Differences in fleas and ticks

Fleas and ticks are both pains in the butt and most people assume that fleas and ticks are the are the same but, fleas and ticks are very different. To protect your pets from both of these parasites it’s important to know the differences between them. Here are some differences that separate these parasites.


A flea is an insect. Even through fleas are wingless and cannot fly, they can jump exceptionally high. Fleas can be difficult to spot right away – they measure 1/16 to 1/8 inches long. With a lifespan of about 100 days, fleas like to settle in and stay in one place. This means once a flea jumps on your pet, it is very likely that it will stay there until it dies. Your pet will provide a flea with everything that it needs to live comfortably – it will feed off of your pet and begin having babies when it finishes eating. For several weeks, they will lay 20-40 eggs a day. These eggs will end up wherever your dogs goes, when your pet sheds, it will not just be fur it will also be flea eggs, just waiting to hatch.

Fleas prefer heat to cold and are happier in a warmer climate. A flea will make itself at home indoors where it can stay toasty and warm. Fleas don’t always settle into their new home alone, they can carry bartonellosis and tapeworm that can be passed along to your pet.


A close cousin to spiders, the tick is considered to be an arachnid (thanks to their eight legs). It’s bigger than the flea, measuring in at ¼ to 1/8-inches long. Ticks don’t mind moving from animal to animal so they are not very picky about where they set up house. Ticks cannot only be found on cats and dogs, they can be found on snakes, lizards and even humans. A ticks lifecycle can last anywhere from 3 months to 3 years. Ticks are picky and will wait to find just the right home. They cannot spend to long on one host. As larvae, nymphs, and adults, they will go from host to host through each life stage.

After feeding off a host, a female tick will fall from its host and lay thousands of eggs. Once the tick is finished laying her eggs, it will die leaving behind thousands of eggs to carry on its dirty work. Ticks are happiest in cold climates, and do not mind the winter cold at all. The tick carries plenty of deadly disease including; Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Type of parasite The flea is an insect. Wingless, it has six legs and can jump really far. Ticks are arachnids. They are closely related to spiders and most stages of ticks have eight legs.
Number of hosts Fleas have fewer hosts than ticks. Hosts typically include dogs, cats, opossums, coyotes, raccoons and foxes. Ticks have more hosts – some hosts are birds, rodents, lizards, foxes, deer, squirrels, rabbits, opossums, raccoons, cattle, cats, dogs and humans.
Lifespan Adult fleas can live more than 100 days. From a few weeks up to 3 years. Some can complete their life cycle in a few weeks with an available host. Others can take up to 3 years to complete their life cycle.
Time on host Fleas live on one host. Fleas are basically squatters. Once they find a host, they will live there until they die. Larvae, nymphs and adults feed on the host. Ticks feed on a different host during different stages in their development.
Who feeds Only adults feed on the host. Larvae, nymphs and adults feed on the host. Ticks feed on a different host during different stages in their development.
How many eggs they lay Lay 20-40 eggs per day for several weeks. Fleas can start laying eggs soon after feeding. The longer they are on a host, the more eggs produced. Lays thousands of eggs at a time. The tick can potentially lay thousands of eggs at once, but after that, it dies.
Where they lay their eggs Lays eggs wherever the host goes. Eggs are shed wherever the host roams. The host then acts as a saltshaker depositing eggs wherever it spends time. Lays eggs after falling off the host. When the female has engorged, she detaches from the host and lays eggs wherever she falls off. The tick then dies.
Climate tolerance Prefer warmer temperatures. Fleas do not like to leave the house and love it when you turn up the thermostat. Can survive near-freezing temperatures. Ticks are hardier than fleas and tougher to kill.
Diseases spread Fleas can transmit bartonellosis and tapeworm. Nothing that any dog would want, but ticks bring even worse stuff to the party. Ticks can transmit many deadly diseases.