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Ticks vs. Lice — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on December 3, 2023
Ticks are blood-sucking arachnids; Lice are wingless insects. Both are parasites but infest differently.
Ticks vs. Lice — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Ticks and Lice


Key Differences

Ticks and Lice Classification: Ticks belong to the arachnid class, closely related to spiders and mites. Lice, on the other hand, are insects and belong to the order Phthiraptera.
Ticks and Lice Appearance: Ticks are small arachnids with a flattened body and lack wings. They have four pairs of legs. Lice are even smaller, wingless insects with six legs, and a distinct head, thorax, and abdomen.
Ticks and Lice Feeding Habits: Both Ticks and Lice feed on blood. However, while all ticks are obligate blood-feeders, only certain types of lice feed on blood. Others feed on sebaceous secretions or dead skin.
Ticks and Lice Transmission: Ticks often attach to their hosts from vegetation, waiting with outstretched legs. Lice, however, spread mainly through close personal contact or sharing personal items.
Ticks and Lice Diseases: Ticks can transmit various diseases, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Lice can lead to conditions like pediculosis but are more known for causing itchiness rather than transmitting diseases.

Comparison Chart



Number of Legs



Generally larger than lice
Smaller, more uniform size

Disease Transmission

Can transmit serious diseases like Lyme
Primarily cause itchiness


Found in vegetation, grasses, and woods
Found on hosts, often in hair or fur

Compare with Definitions


Ticks are small arachnids. Example
I found a tick on my dog after our hike.


Lice are small, wingless insects. Example
Schoolchildren sometimes get head lice.


Ticks have a two-part body. Example
A tick's body swells after feeding.


Lice have a three-part body. Example
Lice can be seen moving on the scalp.


Ticks can transmit diseases. Example
Lyme disease is spread by certain ticks.


Lice infest the hair and skin. Example
Lice lay their eggs on hair shafts.


A light, sharp, clicking sound made repeatedly by a machine, such as a clock.


Lice can cause itchiness and discomfort. Example
Scratching can lead to secondary infections from lice.


Chiefly British A moment.


Lice spread through close personal contact. Example
Sharing combs can spread lice.


A light mark used to check off or call attention to an item.


Plural of louse.


(Informal)A unit on a scale; a degree
When interest rates move up a tick.


Any of various small bloodsucking arachnids of the order Ixodida that are parasitic on terrestrial vertebrates. Many species transmit diseases, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease.


Any of various usually wingless insects that resemble a tick, such as a sheep ked.


A cloth case for a mattress or pillow.


A light mattress without inner springs.




Credit or an amount of credit.


To emit recurring clicking sounds
As the clock ticked.


To function characteristically or well
Machines ticking away.
Curious about what makes people tick.


To count or record with the sound of ticks
A clock ticking the hours.
A taxi meter ticking the fare.


To mark or check off (a listed item) with a tick
Ticked off each name on the list.


Plural of tick


Infl of tick


Ticks feed on the blood of vertebrates. Example
Ticks attach firmly when sucking blood.


Ticks can be found in various habitats. Example
Ticks are common in tall grasses.

Common Curiosities

How many legs do Ticks have compared to Lice?

Ticks have 8 legs, whereas lice have 6 legs.

What is the lifecycle of Lice?

Lice go through three stages: egg (nit), nymph, and adult.

Can Lice fly?

No, lice are wingless and cannot fly.

How long can Ticks live without a host?

Some ticks can live for months or even years without feeding.

Do Lice always feed on blood?

No, not all lice feed on blood. Some feed on sebaceous secretions or dead skin.

Are Ticks and Lice the same?

No, ticks are arachnids while lice are insects.

Where are Ticks commonly found?

Ticks are often found in vegetation, grasses, and woods.

Can Ticks transmit diseases?

Yes, ticks can transmit diseases like Lyme disease.

How can you treat Lice infestations?

Over-the-counter or prescription treatments can be used to treat lice.

How do Lice spread between people?

Lice primarily spread through close personal contact or sharing personal items.

What diseases can Lice transmit?

Lice are more known for causing itchiness rather than transmitting diseases.

Can Lice live in bedding and clothing?

Yes, lice can survive for a short time on clothing, bedding, or other personal items.

Are there different types of Ticks and Lice?

Yes, there are various species of both ticks and lice, each with its unique characteristics.

Are Ticks insects?

No, ticks are arachnids.

How can one prevent Tick bites?

Using repellents, wearing long clothes, and checking for ticks after outdoor activities can help.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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