Difference Between Flea and Tick

Flea vs Tick

Fleas and ticks are external parasites of many types of hosts, yet there are significant differences between them. Taxonomy, anatomy, and morphology would be important to consider in differentiating the two groups. They both can cause deadly diseases to their hosts, but the range of diseases varies between fleas and ticks.


Fleas are the insects of the Order: Siphonaptera of the Superorder: Endopterygota. There are more than 2,000 of described flea species in the world. Fleas do not fly, as they do not have wings, but their mouthparts are well adapted to pierce the skin and suck the blood of hosts; that means they are ectoparasites feeding on avian and mammalian blood. In addition, it would be important to know that their sharp mouthparts are developed like a tube to carry the sucked blood of the hosts. These wingless and dark-coloured creatures have three pairs of long legs, but the hind-most pair is the longest of all, and it is as twice as the other two pairs in length. In addition, those two legs are equipped with good muscle supply. All these mean that the hind legs can be used to jump a considerable range, which is about seven inches above the ground against the gravity. Therefore, fleas do not have to wait for their hosts to touch the ground to find a food source, but they can attach to one as soon as the host gets nearby.

Fleas can cause problems to host in many ways including itching from bites or skin rashes. However, their infestations can be very dangerous since they are vectors of many bacterial (murine typhus), viral (myxomatosis), helminthic (tapeworms), and protozoan (Trypanosomes) diseases.


Ticks are an important group of animals classified in the Order: Ixododa under the Class: Arachnida of Phylum: Arthropoda. Ticks are notorious for their feeding behaviour of blood sucking from vertebrates. In addition to their parasitic lifestyle, ticks carry many diseases to their hosts. Ticks can infest on their hosts and live as ectoparasites. These vectors are found all over the world due to their cosmopolitan distribution. However, they can thrive in the warm and humid conditions.

Ticks morphology is important to consider, as they do not have wings. Their mouthparts are developed for piercing the skins and sucking the blood of their hosts. Ticks, being arachnids, have eight legs arising from their thorax. The digestive tract and reproductive organs are predominant in their abdomen. Ticks undergo three stages in their lifecycle before becoming an adult, and those are known as egg, larva, and nymph. Except for eggs and nymphs, all other stages are parasitic on mammals and birds. Emerged larvae from egg attach to a small mammalian or avian animal and feed on blood until it gains enough nutrition to develop into the next stage. Larvae detach from the hosts and the nymph stage lives on the ground and moults into an adult. Adults prefer large animals, but they are also common in reptiles and sometimes present in amphibians, as well.

Tick bites cause pain in the skin as well as they are well capable of causing a variety of problems such as deadly Lime disease, Colorado Fever, and many other bacterial, viral, and protozoan diseases.

What is the difference between Fleas and Ticks?

• Fleas are a group of insects while ticks are arachnids.

• Fleas have six legs but ticks have eight legs.

• Both are vectors of many diseases but the range of problems varies between ticks and fleas.

• Fleas usually infest on mammals and birds, whereas ticks can feed on reptiles and amphibians, in addition to mammals and birds.

• Fleas are laterally flattened but ticks are not.

• Fleas can jump a considerable height but not the fleas.