“I found this worm while eating my salad from a restaurant”, writes this reader in their submission regarding the translucent worm pictured below. It appears to have visible entrails, a dark head, and a bubble of sorts at its rear. “Can you please tell me anything about it? I’m so worried I’m sick! It’s almost an inch long. Thank you!” Based on our reader’s story, as well as the photo, we have concluded that these are likely fungus gnat larvae. As their name suggests, fungus gnats like to feed on fungi, but they also like other plants as well, in particular young plants.
With that in mind, the larvae of fungus gnats thrive in compost and soil, where they feed on fungi, dead roots and other decomposing organic materials. If there are seedlings present in the soil, they can prove to be quite damaging to them. Interestingly, they will not be able to do any significant damage to fully-grown plants. Regardless, the question here is how these worms ended up in our reader’s salad. Our guess is that these larvae were present in the soil of the vegetables which were harvested and transported to this restaurant. They were likely only eggs at the time, which is perhaps why they went unnoticed, and they then hatched when they got to the restaurant and ended up in the salad. Of course, this is mere speculation, but we find this to be the most plausible story.
Now, we must also address our reader’s concerns for being sick. While fungus gnats and their larvae are not parasites, they can carry disease, so our reader’s fear is not unmerited. We do not know if they are worried that they are sick because they have actually experienced symptoms, or simply because there were worms in their salad, but in any case, we urge them to consult a medical professional if they are feeling sick. We cannot say for certain if they will be sick from ingesting these larvae, as it would be impossible for us to know if these particular larvae carried disease, and more importantly because we are not medical professionals.
To conclude, we think that the translucent worm-like critters our reader found in their salad are fungus gnat larvae. These soil-dwelling creatures are not harmful so far as infecting humans themselves, but they can transmit disease. For our reader’s sake, we hope they did not ingest any of the larvae, but if they do feel sick as a result of eating this salad, we recommend they seek the advice of a doctor. We hope this helps and we wish them the very best!
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