We recently got this question from a reader,”I found this worm crawling in my packaged organic romaine lettuce. What is it? It’s about the size of a grain of rice.” The photo shows a small, green specimen. The creature is round and short, rather than long and skinny. We can’t see a distinct, head, tail, legs, or other appendages:
We believe this worm-like organism is some species of caterpillar, which means it is the larva of a moth or butterfly. There are numerous caterpillars that are known to eat lettuce, and many of them are even green like the one our reader found. Two of the most common caterpillars that eat lettuce are cutworms and cabbage loopers. Based on the photograph alone, we aren’t sure if this is a cutworm, a cabbage looper, or some other type of caterpillar.
We don’t know if this reader reached out because she thinks she might have eaten this caterpillar’s sister or brother, or if she just wanted to know the identity of the specimen. If our reader thinks she consumed a caterpillar along with her romaine lettuce, we don’t think she has anything to be nervous about. While there are some species of venomous caterpillars, most are totally harmless and will be digested normally alongside any food they are accidentally eaten with. That being said, if she has been experiencing any strange symptoms or is truly worried that she might be ill, then we recommend she see a doctor since we aren’t medical professionals and aren’t licensed to administer medical advice of any kind. If she was just curious about the identity of the creature, then we have given her all the information we can based on the photo. As we mentioned, we believe the specimen is probably either a cutworm or a cabbage looper, both of which are caterpillars.