The evidence. An ex-parsley plant.
The culprit, below, starting on the fennel.
Even though the Poll showed that readers voted, by a narrow margin, to throw the suckers off the terrace edge, clinging to parsley stalks, I have had A Change of Heart.
I feel bad.
So yesterday evening I watered the parsley plant on which a fatter cousin of this Black Swallowtail child was munching. And this evening I photographed this one. I don't know what happened to the plump caterpillar. Its parsley wilted in the hot sun during the day - and perked up as we watched, after watering...it was uncanny: seconds later the flat plant was upright - and that caterpillar was gone.
But this evening's caterpillar?
It stuck out its osmeterium and it squirted me.
See on the leaf? Caterpillar squirt. It got a fright when I put the lense too close and juiced on my hand. Dark green. I sniffed it. Awful.
A little while later...just humour me here, my mouth tasted bitter. At first I made no association, but it has persisted all night, through ajo blanco, sauvignon blanc, which tasted horrid, ribs, melon and basil salad and grapes. Bitter.
Is it possible that either the sniffing of the juice or the juice through the skin made me bitter??? Far fetched, I know, but apparently these worms (who love rue, the most bitter of herbs) taste horrid, and right now I think I would taste horrid to a big bird, too.
It is clearly karma. Payback for the brethren tossed over the edge in the barbarism of my yesterweek.
Update: the bitter taste was caused by a reaction to pine nuts, consumed en masse in pesto I made! It lasted two weeks.