Difference between Fleas and Ticks

Key difference: Fleas are tiny, wingless, parasitic insects that live and feed on blood from humans, dog, cats, and other animals. They are agile, usually dark colored with tube-like mouth-parts adapted to feeding on the blood of their hosts. Ticks, on the other hand, are tiny, wingless, ectoparasites that belong to the Arachnida class, the same class that spiders belong to. There are various different types of ticks such as the American deer tick, sheep tick, and cattle tick.

Both fleas and ticks are parasitic infestation that can often trouble humans: adults and children, as well as animals. Parasites are highly specialized in their nature and are very adaptive to their surroundings, their hosts and their hosts’ mode of life.

Fleas are tiny, wingless, parasitic insects that live and feed on blood from humans, dog, cats, and other animals. They are agile, usually dark colored with tube-like mouth-parts adapted to feeding on the blood of their hosts. Their legs are long, the hind pair well adapted for jumping: a flea can jump vertically up to 7 inches (18 cm) and horizontally up to 13 inches (33 cm). Fleas generally have a reddish brown flat body shape.

Fleas commonly affect dogs and cats, but may also be found on humans and other available animals, especially if there is no easy excess to the dogs or cats or the cats and dogs have been moved out of the house.

Also, the fleas leave a series of bites when they feed. The bites generally result in the formation of a slightly raised, swollen itching spot with a single puncture point at the center, which is similar to a mosquito bite. The bites often appear in clusters or lines of two bites, and can remain itchy and inflamed for up to several weeks.

Ticks, on the other hand, are tiny, wingless, ectoparasites that belong to the Arachnida class, the same class that spiders belong to. There are various different types of ticks such as the American deer tick, sheep tick, and cattle tick. Ticks can be classified into three families: Ixodidae (hard ticks), Argasidae (soft ticks) and Nuttalliellidae. The hard ticks often have a small hard shell on the back of their mouths. They are often found all over the world, commonly in warm, wooded and humid conditions. Ticks require a certain amount of moisture in the air for metamorphosis. Ticks do not spend their whole lives on one host and depend on a variety of hosts from a variety of species for nutrition.

Ticks are divided into two primary sections: the anterior capitulum and the posterior idiosoma. The anterior capitulum contains the head and mouth of the ticks, while the posterior idiosoma contains the legs, stomach and reproductive organs. Like all arachnids, ticks have eight legs. They have a two year life cycle, during which they can infect up to three hosts. In order to attach to a host, the ticks climb to the ends of leaves, plants and shrubs and wait for the host to pass by them. They then attach themselves to the host and find an appropriate place to feed, which include traveling all over the body. They also like shaded areas such as the ears, hair, the inside of the arms, etc. After the ticks are full, they drop from the human and hide until they require another feeding for metamorphosis.

The ticks feed by inserting their pincers into the host and excreting an anticoagulant to keep the blood from clogging. The anticoagulant is what often causes the bumps and the itchiness. The ticks cannot jump or fly and are usually crawl to get anywhere they want. Their legs also contain a unique sensory organ known as the Haller's organ, which can detect odors and chemical changes to the host’s skin. Ticks are considered dangerous because they are known to spread diseases and pathogens to the host. Also since they do not spend their whole lives attach to one host, they can often spread germs and diseases from one host to another.

The main difference between fleas and ticks is that fleas are insects, while ticks are arachnids like spiders. However, both feed on the blood of humans and animals. Ticks usually attack individually and especially outside, whereas fleas usually lead to an infestation that can spread all over the home and/or yard. The following table depicts a detailed comparison between fleas and ticks.

 

Fleas

Ticks

Kingdom

Animalia

Animalia

Phylum

Arthropoda

Arthropoda

Class

Insecta

Arachnida

Subclass

Pterygota

Acari

Superorder

Endopterygota

Parasitiformes

Order

Siphonaptera

Ixodida

Species

Over 2,000 species, including:

Cat flea

Dog flea

Human flea

Moorhen flea

Northern rat flea

Oriental rat flea

Tick species are divided among three families: Ixodidae, Argasidae and Nuttalliellidae. Ixodidae has around 700 familes, while Argasidae has over 190 speices. Nuttalliellidae only has one speices.

Nature

Parasite – insect

Parasite – small arachnid

Description

Fleas are tiny, wingless, parasitic insects that live and feed on blood from humans, dog, cats, and other animals. They are agile, usually dark colored with tube-like mouth-parts adapted to feeding on the blood of their hosts. Their legs are long, the hind pair well adapted for jumping: a flea can jump vertically up to 7 inches (18 cm) and horizontally up to 13 inches (33 cm).

Ticks’ bodies are divided into two sections: the anterior capitulum and the posterior idiosoma. The former contains the head and mouth parts, while the latter holds the legs, stomach and reproductive organs.  Ticks have eight legs like all arachnids. Ticks have four live stages: egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph and adult.

Affects

Fleas prefer to live on dogs and cats, but may also be found on humans and other available animals, especially if there is no easy excess to the dogs or cats.

Ticks only attach them to hosts when they require feed and fall of after the feeding is complete. They often attach and feed on animals, birds and mammals.

Causes

Fleas breed close to the resting and sleeping places of the host, in dust, dirt, rubbish, cracks in floors or walls, carpets, animal burrows and birds’ nests. High humidity is required for development. The larvae feed on organic matter such as the feces of the host, small dead insects and undigested blood expelled by adult fleas. The adults go out in the night and feed of the blood of humans or animals.

Ticks attach themselves to leaves, plants, shrubs etc. waiting for the arrival of a host. Once the host brushes past the tick, it firmly attaches itself to the host before finding a good place to feed. They are often found on arms, stomach, behind ears and hairs. They can also be spread from clothes to skin or from animals to humans.

Risk factors

The flea species does not usually remain on the person after feeding and by day it rests in cracks, crevices, carpets and bedding. Hence, it can be hard to find and to pin point a flea infestation. Also, the eggs can hatch after weeks of being laid and start the infestation anew.

The greatest risk of getting ticks in addition to loss of blood is that ticks can spread diseases fast. When they attach themselves to the host, they insert their mouth into the skin and can also leave behind pathogens. They may also secrete a substance that would keep the host from knowing that it is being fed on.

Symptoms

Their bites can cause irritation, serious discomfort and loss of blood.

Their bites can cause irritation, serious discomfort and loss of blood.

Severity

Severe symptoms may include hives, severe itching, small bumps that itch and may bleed, and/or allergic reactions to flea saliva resulting in rashes and/or impotence.

Ticks can leave behind pathogens inside the body, making the body vulnerable to diseases. They may also result in a huge loss of blood if the infestation increases.

Prevention

There is no effective way to prevent fleas. It is however easier to manage and get rid of a flea infestation in the earlier stages, rather than later. There are two basic ways to address the problem: try to prevent any stage of the pest from entering the home and keep immature stages from maturing into adults. For prevention in pets, use a flea comb on the cat or dog and wash the bedding weekly.

Avoid going to tick-infested areas. Be fully clothed if you are required to go out. Wear light color clothing as ticks can be more visible on them. Preventive clothing also includes socks, sturdy shoes and head coverings.

Treatment

An effective repellent applied to skin and clothing, prevents fleas from attacking for a few hours. Dusting clothing with insecticide powder, or by using insecticide-impregnated clothing,  keeping houses well swept and floors washed, treatment of floors with detergents, insecticides or a solution of naphthalene in benzene, and spraying or dusting insecticides into cracks and crevices, corners of rooms and areas where fleas and their larvae are likely to occur.

Apply insect repellent containing 10% to 30% DEET primarily to clothes. Thoroughly check clothing, skin and hair for ticks. If ticks are crawling on clothes, use tape to remove them, do not touch them with bare hands. If tick has started feeding, using tweezers grasp it as close to the head as possible and pull it up straight do not wiggle or move side to side. Wash and clean the bitten area and apply antiseptic.

 

Diseases

Fleas can act as a vector for disease. Fleas transmit not only a variety of viral, bacterial and rickettsial diseases to humans and other animals, but also protozoans and helminths.

Ticks have been known to cause certain diseases, such as Colorado tick fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, African tick bite fever, tularemia, tick-borne relapsing fever, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Tick paralysis and tick-borne meningoencephalitis and bovine anaplasmosis.

When to see a doctor

If the person faces any severe reaction to the flea bites or if the bites are persistent and refuse to heal or go away.

If the itching and redness persists or any other symptoms show up after tick bite. It is best to show a doctor incase pathogens have been released into the system.

Image Courtesy: groomingangel.com, tickinfo.com

Most Searched Non-Alcoholic Drinks Most Searched in Society and Culture
Most Searched in Computers and Internets Most Searched in Environment
Schist vs Gneiss
Ajax vs PHP
Oven vs Convection Oven
Sony Xperia P vs Samsung Galaxy S3

Add new comment

Plain text

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.