Watering the garden this evening, I came across this beautiful creature (at left) in the towering fennel.
Thanks to the internet, I was able to perfom a quick google ("fat black yellow striped caterpillar") and discover that s/he is a parsleyworm, which is actually the caterpillar stage of the black swallowtail butterfly.
Thankfully, I did not squish before googling. After attending "Bug Church" at the Organic Growers School, I know better.
It turns out that they don't eat much and really don't affect the health of their host plants unless the plant is already weak or there is a major infestation.
In any case, this caterpillar was gorgeous. And really fat. I wonder if s/he will make it to butterflydom or get eaten by a bird first? Apparently they have "a forked, glandular process behind the head that can be everted to emit a strong odor distasteful to predators." (Arthropod Museum Notes.)
So after the photo shoot, the parsleyworm went back to her normal life and I moved on to finish watering and weeding.
A few minutes later I came across a spotted cucumber beetle and then some eggs that turned out to be cucumber beetle eggs (see below). The spotted and striped cuke beetles, tied for second place most despised insect in my life (after the mexican bean beetle), were swiftly executed (squished, drowned in steeping compost tea - what a way to go).