8 Difference Between Fleas and Gnats with Comparison Table

What is the difference between fleas and gnats?

Fleas and gnats are both insects. Insects have segments on their bodies. They have a head, thorax, and abdomen. Some insects normally have the thorax joined with the head hence two-segmented bodies.

Fleas are often confused with gnats but they are completely different from each other. They are both tiny insects.

The main difference between fleas and gnats is that fleas are tiny parasites that do not have wings and cling to the host for survival while gnats are tiny insects that can fly.

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Difference Between Fleas and Gnats

Comparison Table (Fleas vs Gnats)

Characteristics Fleas Gnats
Meaning Refers to small wingless parasite insects from the order Siphonaptera. Refers to small flying insects in the Dipterid suborder Nematocera.
Size They small in body size. They are comparatively large in body size.
Appearance They are small insects with strong bodies, flattened sideways, and covered with sclerites. They are delicate-looking, small, long-legged insects, with one pair of wings.
Eyes They have simple eyespots but some species do not have eyes. They have prominent compound eyes.
Mobility They move by jumping as they do not have wings. They move by flying.
Feeding Larvae feed on the feces of adult fleas while the adults feed on sucking blood. The adults feed on insects, plants, fungi, or blood while larvae are either carnivores or feed on plants.
Eggs and larvae They lay small oval white eggs on their hosts and the larvae are pale, small, worm-like with bristles. They lay their eggs on water or land and the larvae may be mobile or immobile and may either live on land or in water.
Impact They are vectors for diseases and parasites. They are vectors for diseases and parasites.
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What are fleas?

Fleas are small wingless parasites from the order Siphonaptera. They are external parasites and depend on birds and mammals for survival. They are dark in color.

They feed by sucking the blood from the host. Their mouths are adapted to perforate the hosts’ skin and suck blood.

Their bodies are flattened sideways and this is an adaptation to help them pass through the fur or feathers of their host.

Their legs have strong claws that enable them to cling on to their host tightly so that they may not fall when the host moves.

Their larvae have feeding organs adapted to chewing and eating organic matter. They mainly feed on adults’ feces.

Fleas are vectors to various diseases. They may carry viral, bacterial, or protozoan diseases which they may transmit to humans, birds, or other mammals from which they suck blood.

What are Gnats?

Gnats are small flying insects from order Dipterid and suborder Nematocera. They are delicate looking small, long-legged insects with six legs, three body parts, and one pair of wings.

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They feed on insects, plants, fungi, or blood. Their larvae either feed on other animals and insects or they feed on plants.

They are useful on the farm as they can be plant pollinators, they feed on crop pests such as aphids and scales making the plants survive.

The female species are the only ones that feed on blood and they are very tiny. They need the blood for the proper development of their legs. Male species feed on plants.

They lay their eggs on land or in water and the larvae may either live in water or on land. The larvae may also be mobile or immobile. Some species are vectors to various diseases.

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Main Differences Between Fleas and Gnats

  1. Fleas are small in body size while gnats are comparatively larger in body size.
  2. Fleas are tiny wingless parasites while gnats are tiny parasites with wings.
  3. Fleas have strong bodies covered with sclerites while gnats have fragile bodies.
  4. Fleas have simple eyespots while gnats have pronounced compound eyes.
  5. Fleas lay tiny white oval eggs on their hosts where they are surviving while gnats lay their eggs either in water or on land.
  6. Fleas have long legs which enable them to move by jumping for long distances while gnat has a pair of wings which enable them to move by flying.
  7. Fleas suck blood from the host while gnats feed on plants, insects, fungi but the female gnats are the ones that suck blood.
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Similarities between Fleas and Gnats

  1. Both are insects.
  2. They both suck blood from the host.
  3. They both lay eggs.
  4. Both are tiny.

In Conclusion

Fleas and gnats are both insects that are tiny although they belong to different orders. Fleas belong to the order Siphonaptera while gnats belong to the order Dipterid. Fleas do not have wings hence they move through jumping with the assistance of their long legs. Gnats have wings so they move by flying.

The main feature that makes fleas to be different from gnats is how they move.

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