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What Is the Difference Between Fleas and Fruit Flies?

What Is The Difference Between Fleas And Fruit Flies? (Fleas)

Have you ever wondered what would be similar between fruits/vegetables and pets?

It is easy! They attract fruit flies and fleas—uninvited guests suddenly appearing out of thin air.

Unfortunately, a single flea or fruit fly is too many, as one can lead to full-blown infestations in weeks.

While both are insects, you may wonder if they are different.


Fleas and fruit flies are two common household pests that reproduce quickly and can be tough to deal with.

While there are several similarities between them, they differ significantly in ways that include:

  • Appearance.
  • Habitat.
  • Diet.

This post outlines the differences between fleas and fruit flies. It also answers frequently asked questions.

11 Differences Between Fleas and Fruit Flies

Differences Between Fleas And Fruit Flies (Fruit Flies)

Fleas and fruit flies are harmful pests. An infestation can be hard to eliminate because of its rapid reproduction.

Knowing the differences between these parasitic insects, like their habitat and how they access homes, aids in effective control.

1. Definition

Definition (Fleas)

Fleas are parasites that feed on warm-blooded animals like cows, cats, pigs, and dogs and may bite humans without animals.

The cat flea is the most prevalent species, feeding on cats, dogs, and people.

Fruit flies are tiny flies that consume decaying matter and slime in dirty drains.

2. Movement

Movement (Fruit Flies)

Another distinguishing feature between fleas and fruit flies is their mode of transportation.

Fleas are long-legged insects that move by leaping.

A flea can jump about 200 times its total length, or up to 7 inches (18 cm) vertically and 13 inches (33 cm) horizontally, making it one of the finest jumpers of all known creatures (relative to body size), second only to the frog hopper.

They are well-equipped with hind pairs for running and jumping. Their ability to jump enables them to switch hosts and catch rides to get to new food sources (i.e., humans and pets).

Fruit flies are hexapod insects with three pairs of legs in their thorax.

These flies’ movement resembles a tripod with three legs swinging together and the other three remaining still.

Fruit flies also fly to move around.

3. Diet


Fleas have mouthparts that resemble tubes, and they have adapted to suck on the blood of hairy mammals, but they can jump onto humans and bite them as well.

Fruit fly adults devour overripe fruits or rotting food in trash cans, and their larva’s main diet is the slime found in dirty drains.

4. Time of Activity

Time Of Activity

Fleas are nocturnal, meaning they are usually more active at night. Since they are mostly inactive during the day, it becomes harder to spot them, especially if you are free of red, irritating bites.

They frequently attach to your pets, settle into animal sleeping spaces, or lurk around in your carpet or upholstery, waiting to jump on for a bite.

Fruit flies are active mostly during the day, and you will see them lurking around decaying matter.

5. Color


Fleas are dark; adult fleas can be pale reddish-brown or dark brown.

Fruit flies are a yellowish-brown tint while immature, turning beige or brownish-orange as they age.

6. Appearance


Eyes: Fleas have tiny eyes, but fruit flies have large, brightly colored eyes. Both pests are sizable, and you can see them with the naked eye.

However, fleas are smaller and wingless insects with a 1.5 mm to 3.3 mm length. They can move quickly and have long, narrow bodies that look flattened from top to bottom.

Fruit flies are typically one-eighth of an inch long, with a rounded shape body. Their bodies have a head, thorax, and abdomen.

The primary difference between male and female fruit flies is the transverse black bands in the waist.

7. Hosts


Fleas feed on the blood of animals but will occasionally settle for humans.

Fruit flies require no host but have a powerful attraction you might leave behind.

Adult flies prefer fermenting items, dirty surfaces, and moisture. This includes rotten food, soiled or moist dishcloths, and garbage cans.

They survive by consuming decaying matter.

8. Life Cycle

Life Cycle

Eggs, larvae, pupa, and adults are the four phases that fleas go through during their life cycle.

The process from egg to adult takes 30 to 75 days under conditions like temperature and humidity. Females can produce up to 50 eggs daily and begin egg-laying after the first blood meal. Flea adults have an optimal lifespan of over 100 days and up to a year.

The fruit flies to pass through the same four phases of development that fleas do: Eggs, larvae, pupa, and adults. The female looks for ripe fruit and makes tiny holes to lay her eggs. The eggs are white and resemble bananas.

Soon after the flea lays the eggs, the eggs will hatch, releasing tiny larvae. The larvae then eat to be ready for the following stage. After going through several molts, the larvae will move away from the moist fruit to a dry location for their next phase.

The larvae then go dormant and develop into an oval, brown, hard-shelled pupa. The fruit fly takes on its adult traits at this stage, lasting a few days. The entire process usually lasts between 7 and 9 days, but it could go longer depending on the climate.

9. Habitat


Another distinction is where these pests gather. Fleas prefer to attach to your pets and establish residence in their nesting regions.

These parasites rarely want to leave their animal hosts, but as they breed, they lay eggs in the pet’s fur that can fall off.

In a short while, the eggs will hatch, and you might find fleas hiding in your carpet or upholstery, ready to jump on you or your pets and bite.

Fruit flies gravitate to warm, moist environments; you will likely find them in the kitchen.

These flies are swarming fruit bowls, wine glasses, trash cans, and dirty mops.

The adults will hang on window sills, frames, doors, and wall spaces. When outside, trash, dumpsters, compost piles, and rotting produce attract them.

10. How Do They Access Homes?

How Do They Access Homes?

Fruit flies enter homes through cracks and fissures, but you can also bring them in on your garden or grocery store produce.

Fleas travel on household pets.

11. Effects


Although they prefer to feed on animals, fleas can also feed on people. Flea bites cause intense itching and might cause discomfort or soreness in the area around each bite.

On humans, bites will appear on the bottom half of their bodies, particularly on their ankles and lower legs. Pets can get flea bites, which are most common on the back, neck, and base of the tail of animals like dogs and cats.

Fruit flies can irritate some people’s skin even though they cannot physically bite.

Fruit flies are mechanical carriers of bacteria, and scientific investigations link them to several illnesses. Their population and the level of sanitation in the area they are infesting affect their capacity to spread disease.


In brief, fleas and fruit flies are common household pests that can be challenging to eradicate because of their rapid reproduction.

Although they are both insects, their appearance, body features, mode of feeding, and what they feed on are different. You will also find fleas hanging in different areas from fruit flies.

They both cause harmful effects, but flea bites are easily visible, and seeing pets excessively scratching is a sign of their presence.

Despite their differences, they are unwelcome in our homes, and you should take precautions to prevent having them.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Know if I Have Fleas or Fruit Flies?

Check for fleas if you find your pet animals scratching more than usual. Fleas will show up on your pets before you detect them elsewhere.

Your pet’s belly is a good spot to look for fleas because they like to hide as close to the skin of dogs and cats as possible. They also leave behind brown dust-like particles of excrement in their wake.

Of course, when you inspect your pets, you might see a flea hopping across. You may notice fleas leaping up off the ground in extremely heavy infestations.

People can get bitten by fleas too, and flea bites on humans can cause visible pink, inflamed patches. The bites itch and may itch nonstop and appear red, bloated, and blotchy.

Flea bites usually appear on the legs, feet, and waist, frequently occurring with rashes.

Any rotting or fermenting organic matter you leave around is home to fruit flies.

The adult fly pupa is close to rotting debris in dry areas. Adult flies moving around inside your home and flying near garbage cans are the two signs of an infestation.

One fruit fly can spearhead an extensive infestation thanks to its capacity to deposit up to 400 eggs once with rapid maturation into adulthood.

How Do You Eliminate Flea and Fruit Fly Infestations?

Eliminating adult fleas plus their eggs are both equally essential. Here are a few methods:

  • Regularly vacuum and steam clean furniture, carpets, and pet bedding.
  • Wash your pet’s bedding and toys using soap and warm water. Rinse using hot water to kill any eggs that remain.
  • Use heat on hard-to-reach crevices to eradicate eggs, larvae, and pupa.
  • Regularly treat your pet with recommendations from your vet.

The best way to eliminate fruit flies is by getting rid of their breeding grounds. You should:

  • Wrap all your fruit bowls and keep them inside the refrigerator.
  • Dispose of food in closed trash cans. It would be best if you also cleaned your bins regularly.
  • Throw away rotting fruits and vegetables.
  • After meals, clean up any leftover food, juice, alcohol spills, and dirty dishcloths that could attract these pests.

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