Endoparasites vs Ectoparasites
A parasite is an organism that lives on or in another organism, known as its host, from which it obtains nutrients. A food relationship between host and parasite is known as parasitism. This relationship is harmful to the host, but it is beneficial to the parasite. This may cause severe diseases in many hosts. Sometimes parasites may even kill the host. Parasites always depend on a host, and they cannot live without host. Therefore, the parasites that do not harm or do minimum harm to its host are considered as the most successful parasites. Many parasites have complex life cycles that need several hosts for growth and reproduction. For that, they have acquired many unique adaptations that can alter the behavior of host and thus make them more vulnerable to their predators. This process enables the transmission of parasite stages from one host to another. Depending on the living environment of parasites, they can be classified as endoparasites and ectoparasites.
Parasites that live on the body surface of an organism are known as ectoparasites or external parasites. These parasites can be often found in both plants and animals. Ectoparasites either suck blood (animal parasites) or juices (plant parasites) or feed on living tissue. Some of the most common examples for human ectoparasites are louse, rat flea, ticks, and itch mite.
Parasites that live within the body of an organism or a host are termed as endoparasites or internal parasites. They occur in many different phyla of animals and protists. These parasites can live in either intracellular or extracellular environments within a host. Intracellular parasites live inside the cell bodies (e.g: malaria parasite in human red blood cells). Extracellular parasites may live in some body tissues (e.g: Trichinella lives inside muscle tissue) or in body fluids (e.g: Schistosoma lives in blood plasma) or in the alimentary canal (e.g: Taenia and Ascaris). Normally, intracellular parasites such as protozoa, bacteria, or viruses need a third organism, which is generally called carrier or vector.
What is the difference between Ectoparasites and Endoparasites?
• Ectoparasites live on the body surface of their hosts whereas endoparasites live within or inside the body of their hosts.
• Generally, endoparasites are extremely specialized and have many adaptations than ectoparasites.
• Endoparasites normally cause severe damages to their hosts than ectoparasites do.