My mother went to a campsite near a lake and came back with reddish-brown dots all over her pant legs.

She's not sure whether they are ticks or fleas. Her pants sat in her room for two days before she realized.

I browsed the internet, saw several people said fleas are reddish-brown so thought that was it, but then found a few posts where people said ticks are also reddish-brown. So now we're right where we started - nowhere.

I told her to see a small-animal veterinarian because they would likely be knowledgeable about ticks & fleas. In the meantime (they're closed today):

  • Q: Are they ticks or fleas?
  • Q: Do both the vehicle and house need to be treated? If so, what product is recommended?

Since she has been bitten:

  • Q: Does she need to be treated with anything?
  • Tick are arachnids, fleas are insects. The former has eight legs, the latter, six. I would think the color of either would depend on the species in question.
    – BillDOe
    Sep 24, 2017 at 23:02
  • Bill is correct. Also she should do a full self skin exam and look for any attached ticks, and remove them according to cdc.gov/ticks/removing_a_tick.html and since it's been more than 2 days, she should see a doctor if she finds anything unusual.
    – DoctorWhom
    Sep 25, 2017 at 0:30
  • Neither ticks nor fleas would remain immobile on her pants, so if those dots have been there for two days the answer is neither. I don't think this question can be answered.
    – Carey Gregory
    Sep 25, 2017 at 20:47

1 Answer 1


@Carey Gregory: You're right, they are neither.

She went to a small-animal vet clinic as I suggested and had them looked at under a microscope; the vet confirmed they are neither ticks nor fleas and didn't have an idea as to what they might be. They had 6 legs.

Needless to say, she is relieved but still curious.


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