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What's the Difference Between Fleas and Ticks?

In these blogs I’ve often said that you don’t need to be an entomologist to acquire a little knowledge about various insects, especially the ones that can pose a threat to us humans and, of course, our pets.

For the record, I strongly disagree with the notion that “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” I’m not sure what the poet Alexander Pope had in mind when he penned that in 1711, but I maintain that a little knowledge is better than none, especially when you’re dealing with the vast range of bugs that can cause you, and your family, a problem.

Flea vs Tick

Ticks and Fleas: What They Look Like

Case in point: The difference between fleas and ticks, and their effects. At Sterifab® we get a lot of questions about ticks and fleas, and how to tell them apart. The fact is that while ticks are generally more difficult to identify, they are usually larger than fleas.

Fleas are generally 3.17 mm in length (i.e., about 1/8th of an inch) and look like small, dark specks.

Ticks, which are a little easier to see (though not by much) can be identified by their darkly colored, flat, teardrop shape.

Ticks and Fleas: Their Similarities

However, before we start enumerating the difference between these pests, let’s look at some of the characteristics they have in common:

  1. Both ticks and fleas can carry diseases. Fleas, for example, can trigger skin issues and flea allergy dermatitis, and also spread tapeworms. Ticks can spread diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease.