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I'm in United Kingdom, East Anglia. I've just started to grow lettuce in my back garden, taking my first harvest today, I found one of these creatures:

Larva-creature on my finger

Same Larva-creature trying to fly off my finger

They have a distinctive brown/white mark along the top of their behind. The black dot appears to be its front, as it scouts with that, and moves in that direction most of the time. This is about 10mm long, give or take 50% depending on how stretched out it is.

They appear to have transparent skin, as I think we can see its organs in there. It moves almost peristaltically (similar to a worm), but with direction, not just flapping around, and seems to like the undersides of things.

They're not particularly segmented, though they have those tiny, tiny ridges as you can see. And there are no legs or meaningful features to speak of on its underside. They were also slightly sticky, with a white-ish secretion.

I have since looked and found a few amongst the other lettuce, which all look incredibly similar to this. Usually hiding inside the outer leaves, but not exactly an infestation (yet!). They don't seem to be on any other plants at the moment. There's no evidence that they've eaten any leaves, or anything, currently.

I have done a lot of searching and attempts to identify, but I can't for the life of me find this online. My amateur guess is some sort vermiform fly larva, but it could be anything from a baby caterpillar to a worm, for all I know. Any help in narrowing it down, or especially in finding out if I should be worried for the plants, would be helpful.

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It's a kind of hoverfly larva (don't know which one, maybe Episyrphus balteatus), they eat aphids on cabbages.

Image on wiki commons

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

  • $\begingroup$ Hi Claudia, welcome to Bio.SE & thanks for providing a response to this question. Though I agree that your answer appears to be a valid guess, it really comes across as just that: a guess. What we're looking for in this SE community are answers that are well-supported and descriptive. Please edit your answer to provide details (i.e., why your answer is right and what characteristics led you to your conclusion) and either citations or links to reputable support for your answer. Our goal is to educate others, so the more info you give the better. $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Apr 24 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ Editing your post will surely result in more positive response from our community. Please see How do I write a good answer? and suggestions for writing species-identification answers. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Apr 24 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ I think this answer is right, so I've added a link to a picture. Feel free to roll back if you disagree. $\endgroup$ – RHA Apr 25 at 7:49
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They indeed really look like "maggots": fly larvae (number 15 in the "section 2" figure: https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef017.

These ones look to me like Drosophila larvae, but much larger than the common laboratory fruit fly, so they are probably a different genus.

Maybe they are simple housefly larvae, like in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6TcIybY7Qo

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the interesting link, but could you explain why it is nr 15 and not nr 16? $\endgroup$ – RHA Apr 25 at 7:52
  • $\begingroup$ @RHA, I'm familiar with the typical shape of a fly larva (number 15). Admittedly, I'm not familiar with the aspect of aphid predator larvae (number 16), which could have very similar features. The description for number 16 mentions "they tend to have green tinged bodies" while for number 15 it mentions "a cream to white body", which better matches the photos given in the question. I would not exclude number 16, though. $\endgroup$ – bli Apr 25 at 8:17

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