Fleas, Ticks and Mites: Know the Difference

Fleas, ticks, and mites are common pests that can be found on animals and people. But how can you tell the difference between them? Even though they are similar in some ways, there are a lot more differences. So which is causing you problems? Read on to find out.



Fleas have flat, oval-shaped bodies with a hard shell covered in hairs. They are dark or reddish-brown in colour and are around 2-4mm long.


Ticks look like tiny spiders and are usually reddish, dark brown, or black in colour. The size of a tick can vary, but they are often only around 1-3mm long. After feeding, a tick’s abdomen enlarges and it can swell to the size of a coffee bean.


Mites are arachnids and are closely related to ticks, but are generally much smaller.



Fleas prefer to feast on the blood of an animal host but will resort to humans when there is no other option. They are great at jumping and use their hind legs to jump on and off their hosts.


Ticks aren’t too choosy, they’ll latch onto a human or animal host for days and feed on their blood. They can’t fly or jump so instead, they wait for a host to come to them. They climb up plants, extend their front legs, and wait for a chance to attach themselves to a host.


When it comes to mites, there are thousands of different species, each with their own feeding and biting habits.



Fleas like to live in shaded, grassy areas outdoors, and indoors, they live on a host or hide out under and on furniture, and in the cracks between floorboards.


Ticks can be found in or near bird’s nests, or in grassy, wooded areas.


Where mites live depends on the species. For example, bird mites live in nests or on birds, while dust mites live in places like pillows, beds, or couches.



When fleas bite, they inject saliva into their host’s skin. A flea bite can be very itchy and the site of the bite will appear irritated. Fleas can spread diseases like typhus and plague through their bites.


Tick bites are often painless and symptoms don’t usually appear until the tick has dropped off. There will usually be a rash around the bite wound, swelling, pain, fever, and sore muscles. Ticks can spread diseases like Lyme disease.


Mite bites can be hard to identify and you might not even notice it until later. If a mite has bitten you, you may have red, irritated skin. You might see small bumps on your skin that look inflamed and your skin might feel itchy or swollen. Mite bites can cause allergic reactions.

How to Deal with Infestations

Whether you’re dealing with fleas, ticks, or mites, here are some quick tips on what you can do to tackle an infestation in your home.


• Wash pet bedding, rugs, and any affected items on the hottest wash possible;

• Treat your pets with a product recommended by your vet;

• Vacuum regularly to kill fleas at all stages of the lifecycle;


Ticks don’t often infest a home, but they can become a problem in your garden, so make sure you;

• Don’t let your lawn grow too long;

• Cut back any large shrubs that are growing close to your home;

• Remove piles of wood, leaves, or clutter.


• Remove clutter. Mites love living in piles of paper and inside cardboard boxes full of clutter. Give your home a good clear out regularly to reduce the places they have to hide.

• Vacuum and dust regularly. Get into all the nooks and crannies with your hoover, and don’t forget the sofa! Dust items like vases, CD collections, picture frames, shelves, and anything else that collects dust. Use a damp cloth as it’s more effective.

• Cover your bed, mattress, and pillow with dust-proof covers. Mites love to live in mattresses and pillows. If the thought of sharing your bed with mites makes you shudder, dust-proof covers will deter them and put your mind at ease.

• Wash sheets and bedding on a hot wash. Wash your bedding on a hot wash every 1-2 weeks to get rid of mites.

Got a Problem with Fleas, Ticks, Or Mites?

It’s time to call in the professionals. If your pets are itching, you are itching, or you’re sure you’ve seen more than one sneaky pest around your home, forget the old wives’ remedies and the DIY methods that don’t really work.

Contego will come in and survey your home. From there, we’ll identify the pest that causing the issue and come up with a plan of action to give you your home and your peace of mind back.

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