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Predator!

I had brought into the house several branches of dense fennel with eggs on them, and when checking them during the next couple of days noticed that the number of eggs seemed to be diminishing. When the number had dwindled down to two or three, it became obvious that an investigation was warranted. These were white eggs, which meant they were new and nowhere near hatching; so that couldn't be why they were disappearing. There was only one other reasonable explanation: someone was munching on them.

I started examining the fennel branches very closely, separating the fronds to get a look everywhere, and noticed a small brown blob hunkered down on a stem. Looking more closely, I saw a rascally little varmint just like the one shown below, only with a guiltier look on his face. Or anyway I assume it was one of these guys, as the egg-napping stopped when I relocated the arachno-monster to the great out-of-doors.

To get a better picture of the one shown above, I brought him into the photo studio. He obligingly hopped off the fennel and onto the support towel, and is shown posing below. He was returned to the wild shortly thereafter.

I am beginning to suspect that spiders are, in general, not interested in making friends with the swallowtail family. Well, perhaps the "swallow" part only. I say this because I recently also found a very tiny indoor spider wrapping its silk around a weakly struggling small black swallowtail caterpillar. I was unable to rescue the caterpillar in time. 

So, the General Advice: keep your eggs and caterpillars in a Spider-Free Zone.

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