Fleas vs Fruit Flies: How Can You Tell The Difference?

You’ve got a bunch of tiny little bugs zipping around. Are they fruit flies or fleas? How can you tell?

Fruit flies and fleas are a group of insects found in many different parts of the world. They are annoying and often seen as pests.

When it comes to fleas vs fruit flies, the biggest giveaway as to what you have is the type of movements. If the little pests are moving around like flies, then you’ve got fruit flies. If they’re jumping around in an arched motion, you probably have fleas.

Both fruit flies and fleas are responsible for spreading diseases such as:

  • Malaria
  • Typhoid fever
  • Dysentery. 

This article will examine the differences between both pests.

Fleas vs Fruit Flies

Both fruit flies and fleas are too small to really see in any detail with the naked eye. Let’s look at each one closely, then we’ll compare the two.

What Do Fleas Look Like?

Here’s what a flea looks like up close:

Flea Macro Photo Souce: Wikipedia

He’s a cutie, isn’t he?

The tiny, wingless insects known as fleas have a hard, chitinous shell and are typically reddish brown in color but can also be black. Fleas have six legs and two antennae. Their flattened bodies help them move through the hosts quickly while they feed and lay eggs. 

The flea’s head has a pair of long jaws called mandibles with sharp teeth at the end, which it uses to bite its host and suck its blood. Fleas are surrounded with fine hairs called setae which enable them to move quickly through the fur or feathers of the host. They have almost 16000 species worldwide.

Fleas are a type of parasitic insect in the order Siphonaptera that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals. They are small, wingless insects with long legs and bodies covered with fine hairs. 

They have mouth parts that can pierce the skin of their host and feed on its blood. Their bites may itch and cause redness or an allergic reaction.

Fleas have four legs in pairs that help them jump 16 inches horizontally from host to host to find a new place to feed. 

Fleas have four legs in pairs that help them jump 16 inches horizontally from host to host to find a new place to feed. 

Here’s a different kind of Flea from a little further away:

Flea Photo Source: Wikipedia

Sorry, we couldn’t resist.

What Do Fruit Flies Look Like?

Fruit Fly Macro photo

Fruit flies are tiny insects about 1-2 mm in length and have a wingspan of about 2.5 to 3.0 mm. They have a fairly short life span, averaging only 18 days. 

They come in many colors, such as red, yellow, green, and black. They also have a variety of markings on their wings which can vary from one individual to the next. Fruit flies also have compound eyes with many facets, allowing them to see in all directions simultaneously (roaches have similar types of eyes).

Fruit flies are more closely related to mosquitoes and houseflies than bees, wasps, and ants. Moreover, there are approximately 90000 species of fruit flies, while 15000 species exist in North America alone. 

Fruit flies are a type of Diptera commonly found in the home. They feed on the ripening fruit and vegetables, eggs, and decaying organic matter.

Fruit flies can be green or brown, depending on their diet. 

They are able to fly, and are often found around rotting fruit, drains, even on mirrors.

Fleas vs Fruit Flies

Fruit flies and fleas are two different species of insects. They are not only different in their appearance but also in their behavior. The fruit fly is a social creature that lives in groups, while the flea is solitary. 

Fruit flies are more likely to breed and cause a more significant issue than fleas. They also have a shorter lifespan of about 2-3 weeks depending on the availability of food and the temperature. Fleas, on the other hand, can live for months or even years if they have enough food.

Fruit flies also tend to be more aggressive than fleas, as they will swarm in large numbers when they sense food nearby. 

They are both generally the same size, coming in at around 1/8″ in length. Insanely, there is a species of fruit fly that has sperm cells 2″ long, 20x as long as the body! Weird.

What Do Fruit Flies and Fleas Feed On?

The diet of fruit flies is mainly composed of sugar, which is high enough to sustain their energy needs. Fruit flies prefer to eat the sweetest fruits and avoid fruits that have a bitter taste. 

Fruit flies really like the smells of rotten, fermenting things. They’re the alcoholics of the insect world, and you can create traps to catch them using wine, vinegar, and soap.

Fruit flies are a good model for understanding how the body uses and stores nutrients. They have been used in research to study how various diets affect the fly’s lifespan, reproduction, and metabolism.

Fleas, on the other hand, are little vampires. Like their cousins the bed bugs, fleas like to drink good ol’ blood. Usually, fleas feed on the blood of animals, but they will happily drink your blood if you give them the opportunity.

They gorge themselves on blood, and when full, lay their eggs a few days later to create a new cycle of fleas.

How Fast Do Fruit Flies and Fleas Reproduce?

Although they are very different in size, the way fruit flies and fleas reproduce is similar. Fruit flies have a higher reproductive rate than fleas.

The average fruit fly will live for about a month and will produce around 2,000 eggs during its lifetime. Fruit flies can multiply in as little as 12 days and lay between 100-250 eggs daily. 

The average fruit fly will live for about a month and will produce around 2,000 eggs during its lifetime. Fruit flies can multiply in as little as 12 days and lay between 100-250 eggs daily. 

Fleas are also known for their ability to reproduce quickly and in large numbers. They can produce 40-50 eggs a day but are considered to reproduce more than fruit flies. This is because they have a long life span of potentially a few months to even years

Fleas’ eggs usually hatch within 14 days, whereas flies hatch their eggs within 24 hours. The pupa stage of fruit flies normally lasts for ten days. In contrast, the duration of the pupa stage of fleas can extend to one year, depending on their type.


Fleas and fruit flies are two different species that have very similar life cycles. The lifecycle of fleas and fruit flies starts with eggs laid by the female adult flea or fruit fly. The eggs hatch into larvae, then molt into pupae before they become adults. 

Fleas and fruit flies are two different species that have very similar life cycles.

The adults then lay eggs and start the whole cycle all over again. Mostly, flies and fruit flies develop a protective layer that looks like a silk cocoon. It usually appears between the transitioning phase of the larva and pupa.

How Do They Spread Disease?

Fruit flies and fleas are both insects that spread diseases, though neither is a big concern in the modern era. But in the past, fleas were incredibly dangerous.

They are similar in many ways but have different ways of spreading disease. Fruit flies contaminate the food while feeding on it and sometimes lay eggs on the edible items. This can be a serious health concern for humans, though realistically house flies are probably more dangerous than fruit flies.

Fleas, on the other hand, spread diseases by jumping onto humans and biting them to infect them with a disease.

Famously, the Black Plague which killed 25%-60% of Europe(!) in the middle ages was probably caused by fleas. At the time, cats were out of fashion in Europe. Fleas would feed on plague-carrying mice, and transmit the plague to humans.

Preventing Fleas and Fruit Flies

The best way to prevent fruit flies from spreading disease is by disposing of the fruit that is left over from their meals. A flea infestation can be prevented by using a flea spray or repellent before they jump onto humans to bite them, and flea and tick medication or flea collars on pets.


If you’re in the mix with a bunch of little jumping buggers that are out for blood, you’ve got fleas. Instead, if your little bugs fly around and swarm around rotten food or drains, you’ve got fruit flies.

Fruit flies and fleas can both enter your home and cause a tiny infestation. Unfortunately, just one fruit fly or flea can be responsible for producing a colony or serious infestation due to the high reproduction rate. 

It is important to eliminate them as quickly as possible so that they don’t overwhelm you and infest everything. Ensure your pets are treated for fleas and ticks, and thoroughly clean your counters and properly store fruits and vegetables.

Good luck!