5 Bugs That Look and Jump Like Fleas

Bugs That Look and Jump Like Fleas

If you’ve got a pet, then have definitely heard about or dealt with fleas before.

A nuisance to furry animals around the world, they cause a world of pain, discomfort, and irritation for any creature unfortunate enough to end up carrying them.

Worse yet is that fleas are not the only small critters that can invade your home and your pet’s personal space and they’re difficult to distinguish from fleas.

Although the insects that will be discussed in here are different from fleas, that does not inherently mean they are more or less harmful.

Even the least dangerous of these insects should still be treated as a sort of threat, or simply as an invading force, and proper precautions should be taken before you’ve identified the insect you’re dealing with.

With this in mind, this piece will discuss what fleas are, how you can tell them apart from other insects, and what insects most closely resemble the features of a flea.

Additionally, this article will provide some information on each of these lookalikes so that you can determine whether or not your home/pets are at risk.

What are Fleas – How to Identify Them?

Plain and simple, a flea is a tiny, light brown insect that averages around 5 millimeters in size.

Its body is flat and they have no wings to speak of, but that’s for a good reason.

Their defining feature is their incredible ability to jump at comparatively superhuman heights, being able to reach 30 centimeters in height.

Thirty centimeters sounds measly to humans, that’s just 30% of a meter, hardly impressive.

Another way to think about it is this: 30 cm is over 80 times larger than their average height.

This would be similar to a 5-6-foot-tall (approx. 1.5-2 meters) human easily jumping 480 feet (~145 meters) into the air.

Why use wings when they can easily bound over anything in your way?

Being able to jump this far with one leap means that they are able to spread incredibly quickly with relatively little effort.

Fleas are also well known for their tendency to bite their host, which is especially dangerous since fleas often carry diseases – the Black Plague wasn’t really spread by rats, but the fleas that tagged along with the rats.

While a similar plague (barring COVID, of course) may not be a primary concern, researchers have continued to find that fleas still carry a plethora of dangerous bacteria and pathogens harmful to animals & humans alike.

So, knowing these primary assets, identifying a tiny brown, flat-bodied, wingless flea that can jump incredibly high should be a cinch, right?

If only it were so easy.

What Bug Look and Jump Like Fleas – But Aren’t?

Identifying a flea is already a challenge in itself due to their nearly microscopic size, their jumping capabilities, and their rather muted colors.

Though their characteristics may appear defining at first, it has been found that there are several other insects that are identical in looks, size, jumping capabilities, and even their capacity to bite.

Here are some of the most commonly confused bugs that have people thinking they’re dealing with an infestation of fleas.

1- Bed bugs

These bugs are perhaps the most similar to fleas out of this entire list in terms of their looks.

They’re flat, brown, and are essentially the same size (5 mm on average) that fleas are.

Bed bugs like to make their homes, where else, within the fibers of your bed.

While they call beds home, they are still bloodthirsty for both humans and animals, whichever is easier to get, and can become a big problem if left unchecked.

Similarities

Bed bugs are similar for all of the reasons already stated: they look nearly identical being flat, brown, and tiny, and they love to bite humans/animals to get their sustenance.

Their main meal of choice is blood almost exclusively, just like fleas, and they also lack wings.

This makes it quite difficult to tell bed bugs apart without further research.

Differences

There are 3 ways to discern a flea from a bed bug: the leap, the bite marks, and the eggs.

First, bed bugs cannot jump, which is the most significant indicator here. If it can’t jump, then it definitely isn’t a flea.

Second, flea bite marks are clustered and resemble mosquito bites. Bed bugs are slightly larger and flat welts.

Finally, if you happen to find bed bug eggs, they will appear black – fleas, opposingly, lay bright white eggs.

2- Springtails

These little insects love moisture and are often found feeding on mold and fungus.

Springtails are generally grayish or brown in color and can easily be identified as a flea due to ability to jump high, which is a key part of their namesake.

Additionally, these bugs are quite small and barely reach a few millimeters in size as a fully grown adult.

Similarities

They’re small, can leap great distances, and lack wings, all similar traits to a flea.

Their size is a great asset to them, enabling them to feed as they please with little risk of detection.

Being able to jump is obviously the largest cause for being misidentified as a flea alongside their brownish color.

Differences

First, springtails do not bite living hosts like fleas (or bed bugs) do.

Instead, as previously mentioned, they are far more interested in feeding on organic matter or fungi that are decaying to sustain themselves.

Because of this, they never bother humans nor animals since they have no need for them.

Second, their body is differently shaped compared to a flea.

This is hard to tell without getting an extremely close look, but springtails have a rounded body that is soft – fleas are flat and have a durable structure.

3- Flea beetles

Flea beetles are the plant-loving ‘cousins’ to fleas (used loosely since they are not nearly that closely related).

Instead of spending time munching on humans for sustenance, they focus on a variety of plants.

Although they have different food preferences, these little guys are often mistaken for fleas for other reasons.

Similarities

Like fleas, flea beetles are great jumpers and have a similar color scheme.

These bugs jump from plant to plant among great fields rather than from human to human, but they are still regarded as a pest because of their ability to spread quickly.

Additionally, their brownish coloring makes them the perfect candidate to frame fleas for their presence.

Differences

Flea beetles do not bite animals or humans and exist in an entirely different habitat than fleas.

Don’t be fooled, they can still bite, they just prefer to chew through thousands of leaves over time rather than through skin.

Accordingly, it is rare to find them inside any houses unless they have an abundance of plants.

4- Froghoppers

Froghoppers are sap-sucking insects that are brown and color and measure out to about 6 mm on average.

They are well known for their tendency to leave plants coated in foamy spit once they are done feeding, but they also beat the flea at their own game in jumping. This makes them incredibly easy to be mistaken for a flea.

Similarities

So, the color and jumping capability of froghoppers certainly both match that of a flea.

Being and brown, and capable of jumping nearly 70 cm, its no wonder that froghoppers are constantly being misidentified as fleas.

Differences

The froghoppers jumping ability actually lends quite well to one of its primary differences.

Jumping up to 70 cm in one bound is over double what a flea can jump, though it would still be difficult to tell these two apart with just this information alone.

Froghoppers also occupy an entirely different habitat than fleas and have no interest in using animals/humans for a meal.

5- Grasshoppers and Crickets

Grasshoppers and crickets are both smaller insects that have great leaping capabilities.

They are often found outside during the summer months and prefer to stay as from humans as they can.

Crickets are generally omnivorous and will opt to eat whatever is most easily available, whereas grasshoppers are herbivorous.

Crickets tend to be yellowish-brown in color and grasshoppers are usually varying shades of green/brown.

Similarities

In terms of colors, these two insects are quite close, though they both tend to lean towards green (grasshoppers) and yellow (crickets).

They are also capable of making jumps similar to that of the flea in comparison to their size.

Differences

Regarding the rest of this list, these two are harder to mistake for a flea than the others.

Right away, both crickets and grasshoppers are much larger than fleas.

They also inhabit entirely different ecosystems – grasshoppers, being herbivores, want nothing more than to stay in the fields, and crickets prefer to hunt/mate at night away from human activity as part of their native environment.

The Conclusion

Though vastly different upon closer inspection, all of these insects can easily be mistaken for fleas.

Fleas can be difficult to identify in any case, but hopefully, this article has given some of the tools to make the distinction with ease in the future.

Why do Dead Ants Attract More of Them?

One major reason why dead ants attract live ants to the location is to investigate what has exactly caused the Read more

Why Do Ants Show Up After Rain?

When it rains heavily, the ant nests and colonies that lie underground get flooded in a matter of few minutes. Read more

What are Boxelder Bugs – How to Keep Them Out of House?

The boxelder bug gets its name from the boxelder tree of which the insect is often found on or nearby. Read more

How to Control Desert Locust Swarms (Tips and Strategies)

From the Acrididae family, the desert locust is a short-horned grasshopper that is mostly found from South Asia west to Read more

error: Content is protected !!