Fleas are blood-sucking parasites that can be found on unprotected dogs and cats, as well as on wild animals such as rabbits, skunks, coyotes, raccoons, and rodents. Because fleas suck blood from their hosts, they leave behind itchy bites that often result in inflammation and skin problems. Fleas can also be dangerous. They are vectors of disease and have been known to cause severe illness not only in our pets but even in humans.
Flea identification is important because it can help you determine what type of treatment you will need to get rid of certain pests. Unfortunately, there are many types of bugs that look like fleas but aren’t actually fleas at all.
In today’s article, we are going to talk about 10 bugs that look like fleas but aren’t. Let’s get started!
But First, What Are Fleas?
Fleas are small parasitic pests that are known to spread diseases.
Fleas are small, wingless insects that feed on the blood of mammals and birds. The common flea (Pulex irritans) is the most common species found in the United States and is known to target and infest wild animals, as well as domesticated animals like dogs and cats. Fleas can also be found on rodents, rabbits, squirrels, opossums, and even humans.
Because they are quite small, fleas can be difficult to see and even harder to identify. They are approximately 1/16 inch long with a dark brown or black body. They have piercing mouthparts designed to suck blood from their hosts without alerting their host to their presence.
Fleas also have three pairs of legs, one pair of antennae, and a hard exoskeleton that protects their bodies from damage during movement through hair or fur. These parasites also have a flat body shape with no visible eyes or wings, although they do have tiny hairs on their bodies that help them move through hair or fur.
The common flea has several stages in its life cycle, including egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Eggs are laid by an adult female directly onto the host animal’s skin or fur where they hatch into larvae within hours or days depending on environmental conditions. These conditions include temperature and humidity.
Upon hatching, the larvae will feed on organic matter within their immediate environment before entering a quiescent period called the pupal stage. In this state, they develop into adults that emerge from their cocoons to find a suitable host animal.
As they jump they leave behind dark brown spots (feces) which can indicate that a pet may have an infestation of fleas. If you notice this type of spotting on your pet or in its bedding it is important to check for signs of an infestation immediately and to confirm that your pet does indeed have fleas so you can treat the problem accordingly.
Why Are Fleas Dangerous?
Fleas can spread diseases to both pets and people.
Fleas are a serious pest, and they can be dangerous to your pets and family. In fact, fleas can carry deadly pathogens that can lead to deadly diseases for both people and pets.
Some diseases fleas are known to spread include:
Fleas are a vector for the plague bacterium Yersinia pestis. The plague is spread to humans through the bites of infected fleas that have fed on rodents infected with plague bacteria.
Fleas can also spread tapeworms, which are intestinal parasites that cause diarrhea and abdominal pain. Tapeworm eggs are found in the feces of fleas that have fed on an animal infected with tapeworm larvae. If humans or pets ingest these eggs, they can develop tapeworms in their intestines.
Tungiasis is caused by subcutaneous penetration of sand flea larvae (Tunga penetrans) into the host’s skin. It is a common tropical infection found in sub-Saharan Africa and other areas where sand flies are found.
Tularemia is a rare, but potentially life-threatening disease caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. The disease primarily affects the skin and lungs, but can also cause fever, ulcers in the mouth, and abdominal pain. Tularemia can be transmitted to pets, or even to humans by inhaling or ingesting F. tularensis or by handling an infected animal.
Murine typhus is a disease caused by Rickettsia typhi, a type of bacteria called rickettsia. Murine typhus is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected flea or through contact with infected flea feces.
10 Bugs That Look LIke Fleas But Aren’t – Why Flea Identification Is Important
Fleas can look like many other types of bugs, and proper identification is important.
There are many bugs that look like fleas, and it can be easy to assume you are dealing with fleas when you’re really dealing with something less dangerous.
However, in some cases the bugs that look like fleas but aren’t may be more dangerous than actual fleas. Ticks, for example, can spread just as many dangerous diseases as fleas and in fact, may even be transmitters of the worst diseases to people and pets.
Furthermore, ensuring you are indeed dealing with fleas allows you to treat the problem effectively and efficiently. The same goes for if you are dealing with bugs that look like fleas but are not fleas at all.
With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at 10 bugs that look like fleas but aren’t.
- Fungus Gnats
2. Flea Beetles
- Bed Bugs
- Flour Beetle
- Black Carpet Beetles
- Baby Crickets or Grasshoppers
- Head Lice
So, how do you identify the above bugs that look like fleas? And, most importantly, if you are dealing with one of the above bugs that look like fleas but aren’t, how do you manage this problem?
Keep reading to find out.
1. Fungus Gnats
Fungus gnats are small flies in the suborder Nematocera.
Fungus gnats are tiny black flies that live in moist soil, compost, and mulch. They can be a nuisance in the home because they lay their eggs on houseplants and other surfaces. The larvae feed on decaying organic matter, which is why they are often found in potted plants.
Fungus gnats thrive in warm moist conditions like basements, bathrooms, greenhouses, and terrariums where there is little air circulation to dry out their habitat quickly. They are attracted to light so they will come out at night when you turn on lights in your home – especially if there’s moisture present from leaks or condensation from running water pipes (like your shower).
Fungus gnats are often confused for fleas due to their size and appearance — they’re very small insects that fly quickly when disturbed. However, unlike fleas, fungus gnats don’t bite humans or pets; they just feast on plants and decaying organic matter. Fungus gnats also have wings, and any bug that has wings can be immediately ruled out as a flea.
2. Flea Beetles
Flea beetles can be damaging to gardens as they feed primarily on plants and leaves.
Flea beetles are a common type of beetle that feeds on the leaves of plants and can cause serious damage to your garden. While these insects are easily recognizable, it’s not uncommon for people to confuse them for other insects like fleas.
Flea beetles are small, flat, brown insects that are commonly found in the home. They are about 1/16 inch long and can jump to avoid danger, hence their name ‘flea beetle’ (as fleas too are known to be excellent jumpers).
These bugs that look like fleas but are not may be found in gardens, but they also live in flower beds, lawns, and other areas of the home. They feed on the leaves of many plants, including roses, spinach, and cabbage.
The reason flea beetles are often confused with fleas is because they both have a similar appearance. Both types of insects are small, brown bugs with long legs and antennae. Additionally, they both have the ability to jump around quickly — which can be startling if you’re not expecting it!
However, unlike fleas, flea beetles feed on plant life and tend to stay away from animals and people.
3. Bed Bugs
Though not dangerous to our health, bed bugs are an incredible nuisance in the US.
Bed bugs are another bug on our list of bugs that look like fleas but aren’t. These pests are small, oval-shaped insects that feed on the blood of animals and humans, so it’s no wonder they might be confused for fleas.
Furthermore, bed bug bites can be difficult to identify and often look like other skin conditions, such as eczema, rashes, or hives. Worse still, bed bug infestations have become more common in recent years.
Though bedbugs are bugs that look like fleas, they have different habits. Bed bugs hide in cracks and crevices in our homes during the day, but come out at night to feed on sleeping people or animals. Because they’re nocturnal creatures, you may not notice them until morning when you wake up with itchy red bumps on your arms or legs.
It is a common misconception that bed bugs are fleas, but of course, they are not. Bed bugs do not live on pets or people; instead, they live in mattresses, box springs, headboards, and other places in your home or bedroom. Luckily, bed bugs are not known to spread any serious diseases to people and are generally a nuisance pest that can be tricky to get rid of.
Chiggers are nearly invisible to the naked eye.
Chiggers are tiny insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals. They are so small and difficult to see with the naked eye, just like fleas. They often feed during the day, and they are most active in warm weather.
Chiggers can be found in tall grasses, bushes, and weeds. They also live in wood piles and mulch beds. Chigger larvae like to hide in dark places like cracks and crevices under rocks, logs, or even inside homes where it’s warm and dark.
Although chiggers look similar to fleas, they have a few key differences.
First, chiggers are grayish-white in color and have eight legs, making them arachnids instead of insects. Chiggers also don’t jump the way fleas do. Instead, they crawl into clothing or onto shoes where they wait for their next meal.
The final distinction is that chiggers are even smaller than fleas. In fact, they are almost impossible to see with the naked eye!
5. Flour Beetle
Flour beetles are a common pantry pest.
Another bug on our list of bugs that look like fleas are flour beetles.
The flour beetle is a common pest in the home and can easily be confused with fleas. The most common reason people confuse these two pests is that they are both small and brownish-red in color.
The flour beetle gets its name from the fact that it feeds on grain products, such as wheat flour, cereal, and grain-based products like pasta. It is also known as the mealworm beetle, which is another name for the larval stage of this insect.
The adult flour beetle is about one-quarter inch long, oval-shaped, and reddish-brown in color with a copper band across its back. The larvae are white to yellowish-white with small hairs covering their bodies. The pupae are yellowish-white to brown in color with a dark head capsule.
Flour beetles live in warm environments with lots of moisture such as bathrooms and kitchens where there is food available for them to eat. They can also be found under wallpaper or behind baseboards where there may be moisture buildup from plumbing leaks or condensation from air conditioners running in these areas of the home.
Froghoppers can hop and are sometimes confused for fleas.
Froghoppers are a type of insect that looks similar to the common housefly. They have long antennae and long legs that allow them to jump great distances, which is also why they might fall under a list of bugs that look like fleas. These insects feed on plants and often go unnoticed until they become a nuisance by damaging crops or infesting homes.
The most common place to find froghoppers is in the garden or yard. These insects can also be found inside homes, especially during the summer months when they are most active. When froghoppers are present inside a home, they will usually be found around windows and doors where they may try to get inside by jumping on people or animals passing by outside.
Froghoppers are often mistaken for fleas because both types of insects have similar body shapes, long hairs covering their bodies, and an oval-shaped head with large eyes and antennae. The main difference between these two types of insects is that flea larvae have three pairs of legs while froghopper larvae only have one pair of legs at each end of their bodies.
7. Black Carpet Beetles
Because of their size and color, carpet beetles may be confused for fleas.
Carpet beetles are small beetles that measure just 1/8 inch long when fully grown. They are often confused with fleas because they have similar jumping abilities and can also move quickly across surfaces. They are dark brown or black in color with white spots or stripes across their bodies. Carpet beetles can also be found in yellowish-white varieties as well as grayish-brown varieties.
These pests love to feed on natural fibers and can do significant damage to carpets, upholstery, and other fabrics in the home. The larvae of carpet beetles feed on organic matter, like wool, silk, and feathers from stuffed animals or clothing. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can get rid of these pesky pests.
The key is finding the source of the problem so that it doesn’t come back again. To get rid of carpet beetles, experts suggest you vacuum often with a high-quality vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter. Vacuuming will remove any loose larvae or eggs that may be hiding in your carpeting or furniture upholstery.
This will also help reduce allergens in your home that may be causing health issues for you or your family members.
8. Baby Crickets And Grasshoppers
Because they are small in size and can jump, baby grasshoppers and crickets may be mistaken for fleas.
Baby crickets and grasshoppers are commonly confused for fleas because they are small and have long back legs which they use to help them jump. Luckily, both baby grasshoppers and crickets are easy to spot because they are larger than fleas and move quickly.
While the size, shape, and movement of the insect may be similar to that of a flea, there are several important characteristics that make them easily identifiable. First, both baby crickets and baby grasshoppers come in many color varieties, while fleas are generally dark brown or black.
Furthermore, baby grasshoppers and crickets have wings and feed on plants.
Baby crickets are commonly found in damp places such as basements or crawl spaces, where there is plenty of moisture from leaks or condensation from air conditioning units. They also tend to find their way into homes through cracks in windows or doors as well as holes in screen doors.
Grasshoppers, on the other hand, are commonly found outdoors in gardens. They may accidentally get into your home through cracks, crevices, or open doors, but otherwise prefer to live outside.
9. Head Lice
Head lice are small parasites that often feed on human hosts.
Head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis) are parasitic insects that live in human hair and feed on blood.
Adult head lice are about the size of a sesame seed and can be seen with the naked eye; they’re gray-white in color and have six legs. Nits (eggs) are slightly smaller than a grain of sand and are yellowish or white in color.
You can find nits attached to hair shafts close to the scalp or may find them on bedding, towels, or clothing that has been in contact with an infested person’s head. Head lice usually live on human heads, but they can also survive for short periods off of the body on items such as hats, scarves, or pillowcases.
The good news is that the lice themselves don’t do any harm. The problem is that they lay their eggs in your hair, which can make your scalp itch like crazy.
Head lice are bugs that look like fleas. They are small like fleas, they feed on the blood of human hosts, and they are wingless parasites. However, unlike fleas, head lice do not spread disease. They are commonly spread through contact and require specific shampoos, combing, and other treatments to remove them.
Next to mosquitoes and fleas, ticks are some of the most dangerous pests in the world.
Ticks are small, parasitic arachnids that feed on the blood of humans and animals. About 800 species of ticks have been identified worldwide, and they are commonly seen as bugs that look like fleas but aren’t.
Ticks vary greatly in size and appearance but all are external parasites that feed on blood. They attach to their hosts by embedding their mouthparts into the skin and secreting saliva containing anticoagulants. This allows the tick to remain attached while feeding on blood without causing significant damage to the host.
Like fleas, ticks have four life stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. The life cycle can be completed in as little as one month under favorable conditions or more than a year under less favorable conditions.
Ticks can look very similar to fleas due to their size and behavior. They are also quite dangerous in many of the same ways that fleas are.
In fact, Ticks can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever by having previously fed on other animals infected with these diseases.
Best Products To Protect Yourself From Fleas And Other Bugs That Look Like Fleas
While getting rid of pests like fleas can be tricky, there are several products you can use to help.
Before you choose which product would be best for your pest problem, remember that it’s important to make sure you properly identify the pest. There are lots of bugs that look like fleas but aren’t, and some of them can be even more dangerous than fleas, as we discussed above.
Once you have identified the pests causing you issues, do some research on which types of products can help you in managing them. Below we have listed several products we trust for fleas and ticks, as well as some overall pest protection for a wide variety of other bugs that look like fleas but aren’t.
Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control
No products found.
Wondercide Outdoor Pest Control is a safe and effective way to protect your home, yard, and pets from fleas and bugs that look like fleas. Wondercide is made with essential oils that are safe for people and pets. It’s also safe for the environment, so you can use it anywhere around your home.
The product is used to control fleas and other pests on lawns, gardens, flowerbeds, and other areas where pests congregate. It can also be used to control ticks, spiders, roaches, ants, and more.
We like that this formula contains natural ingredients including lemongrass oil, rosemary oil, and cinnamon oil — all of which have been proven effective at killing and repelling problem pests like fleas from your lawn or garden area without harming people, pets, or the environment.
K9 Advantix Flea and Tick Prevention
No products found.
Another way to protect your pets and your home from fleas and ticks is with a product like K9 Advantix Flea and Tick Prevention. These flea and tick products contain imidacloprid, permethrin, and pyriproxyfen.
Imidacloprid is a neurotoxin that works by interfering with the central nervous system of insects and parasites. Permethrin is a pyrethroid insecticide that kills adult fleas on contact. Pyriproxyfen disrupts the development of flea eggs and larvae in the environment.
The main benefit of using K9 Advantix Flea and Tick Prevention is that it protects your dog from both external and internal parasites, which in turn can protect your home and family as well.
Safer Diatomaceous Earth Crawling Insect Killer
No products found.
Also known as DE, Diatomaceous earth is a natural product made of the fossilized remains of algae known as diatoms. The sharp edges of these shells cut through the outer shell of insects and other pests, causing them to die from dehydration.
You can use diatomaceous earth as a flea treatment for cats and dogs. It is often used as a powder that you sprinkle on your pet’s bedding or fur. You can also sprinkle it directly onto the animal’s skin. This product is perfectly safe for people and pets, as well as for the environment.
To use DE in your yard to protect against pests like fleas, ticks, and bugs that look like fleas, simply sprinkle diatomaceous earth around areas where pests are known to frequent. Diatomaceous Earth will kill any insects that come into contact with it.
Ortho BugClear Insect Killer
No products found.
Ortho BugClear Insect Killer provides year-round protection for your yard and home against fleas, ticks, and other bugs that look like fleas. It’s a non-greasy formula that dries quickly and won’t harm plants or animals when used as directed.
Ortho BugClear Insect Killer is a fast-acting formula that kills fleas and ticks on contact. This non-greasy insecticide kills adult fleas on contact and continues killing them or their offspring for up to 4 weeks.
The product also kills larvae of brown dog ticks (American dog ticks) and lone star ticks (Amblyomma americanum). These three types of ticks are known to transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis (human monocytic ehrlichiosis) anaplasmosis (human granulocytic anaplasmosis), tularemia (rabbit fever), and other diseases.
How To Protect Yourself And Your Pets From Fleas And Similar Pests
Pets are often some of the most common victims of fleas and ticks.
Fleas, ticks, and other pests can be a serious problem for pets and their human companions. These tiny insects can cause a lot of stress and illness in your pet, and they carry diseases that can make you sick as well.
To protect your home from fleas and similar pests, there are several steps you can take. Start by making sure that your pet has been properly groomed and treated for fleas and ticks. You should also use quality products like insecticides, natural products, repellents, and professional pest control services if necessary.
In addition to these measures, keep up with landscaping so that there are fewer places for pests to hide. Store garbage properly so that it doesn’t attract rodents or other pests that could end up bringing bugs like fleas and ticks to your home.
Other tips to help keep fleas and bugs that look like fleas at bay include:
- Harvesting fruits and veggies in your yard when they are ready
- Ensuring your pets protected from fleas and ticks
- Checking your pets often for signs of fleas and ticks
- Using a quality form of pest control year-round
And there you have it – 10 bugs that look like fleas but aren’t. Now it’s your turn to share! Which above bugs on our list of bugs that look like fleas have you had encounters with?
Share your stories with us in the comment section below.
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.