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What is the difference between a flea and a tick?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Fleas and ticks are both blood-sucking parasites that target warm-blooded mammals; they survive on blood and blood alone. However, they are very different.

In this article, you will learn the difference between fleas and ticks.

pest and flea control Reading, Berkshire

Parasite type

Fleas are insects with six legs. They can crawl or jump to their host. Ticks are arachnids with eight legs. Closely related to spiders, ticks cannot jump. They patiently wait for a host to pass them in a position known as "questing", and then climb on them.


Fleas target furry animals. Common hosts include cats, dogs, rabbits and foxes. However, they will crawl on a human and suck their blood, if it is their only option. Ticks are less picky; they will target any warm-blooded animal, including humans.

How they feed

Fleas penetrate the skin of their host by biting and suck blood using two mouth parts; one squirts saliva and partially digested blood into the host and the other sucks up the blood - that is how fleas transmit diseases. Ticks also penetrate the skin by biting, however their biting technique is stronger and they effectively harpoon the skin, latching themselves on.


Fleas do not attach themselves to the host with any rigour; they can be picked off easily and crushed between your fingers. Ticks should be removed with great care; they latch on to the host so if you remove a tick in the same way you do a flea you run the risk of breaking the tick's mouth away from its body, leaving the mouth inside you or your pet. To remove a tick:

  1. Using a pair of tweezers, grasp the tick and get as close to the skin as possible;
  2. Pull upwards with steady pressure taking care not to twist or jerk;
  3. Once the tick is removed, kill it off immediately by crushing it or with boiling water;
  4. If mouth parts remain in yours or your pet's skin, remove them with the tweezers;
  5. Wipe the area down thoroughly with an antibacterial wipe. Apply anti-bac gel.


Adult fleas can live for more than 100 days; their lifespan depends greatly on their host so if they have an ample source of blood they will thrive. Ticks suck blood throughout the larva, nymph and adult lifecycle. They can take three years to become an adult.


Fleas can survive in both cold and warm environments. Colder temperatures simply slow them down. Ticks do not mind cold or warm climates; in fact they can survive perfectly fine at temperatures below freezing, as long as they have a source of warm blood.


Fleas rarely transmit diseases harmful to humans; however they can carry bartonellosis which can lead to Carrió´s disease, trench fever and cat-scratch disease. Fleas can also carry and transmit tapeworm. Ticks are far more serious to human health; they can transmit Lyme disease. The most likely tick to bite and transmit this disease is the Sheep tick.

We hope you found this article useful. If you did, please be sure to share it. Or if your home has a flea or tick problem, why not call our team for assistance? We provide a powerful and effective flea and tick pest control service in Reading and Berkshire.

Call our team today on 01635 250 852 to arrange a free consultation. We cover Reading, Newbury, Thatcham, Hungerford and all areas in between.

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