Springtails vs. Fleas

Springtails or Fleas?

Despite both fleas and springtails possessing the ability to jump, there are many important differences between these two insects that will help to identify if you are dealing with a springtail or a flea.

Appearance

Fleas Fleas are small, wingless insects and are reddish-brown in color. They are compressed (flattened) from the top to the bottom of their body, a shape that enables them to easily move through the fur of their hosts. They have strong, muscled legs that enable them to jump long distances relative to their size. Springtails Springtails are multi-colored insects that jump by using a spring-loaded body structure called a furcula, which is located on their abdomen. When springtails coil and release their furcula it causes the insect to be “launched” into the air and avoid a perceived danger.

Biology and Habitat

Fleas

Flea adults are blood-feeding insects that have piercing mouthparts which enables the insect to bite. Infestations of fleas usually are the result of an infested pet that spends most of its time inside.

Flea eggs are laid on the host and when the eggs hatch, the larval stage drops off the host and seeks a hidden, protective location to develop into the pupal stage.

Flea pupa are immobile and when the pupal stage has sufficiently developed, they will become adult fleas, which will jump on a host, feed on blood and produce another batch of flea eggs.

Springtails Springtails normal habitat is in the soil, but they can be found in other places where the moisture content is high. They are common in:
  • Woodpiles
  • Flowerbeds
  • Under logs and landscape stones

Springtails are usually outdoor critters, but if outside conditions become too dry for them, they will move inside where conditions are more humid. Typical indoor locations include:

  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Basements

They are very hard to see unless they jump. Springtails feed on mold and fungi and do not bite.

Damage and Health Implications

Fleas Fleas are important medical pests that cause painful bites that may become infected if not properly cared for. Sometimes fleas will cause hair loss on pets as the result of a pet’s continuous scratching and biting of their fur where the fleas are located.

Fleas are also transmitters of diseases for both pets and humans and may cause allergic reactions as the result of their bites.

Springtails

Springtails do not bite and their impact on homeowners is limited to being a nuisance. However, springtails located inside a home may indicate moisture from a plumbing leak, leaking roof or some kind of a moisture source that caused mold and mildew.

So, whenever springtails or fleas become a problem, contact Orkin for science-based, integrated plans for controlling these pests.