For writing inspiration this month, I looked no further than my kitchen windowsill. A candle, washing-up liquid, bright yellow daffodils in a vase (it is that time of year), basil, coriander and insects.

The insects are whitefly (pictured). I am not exactly sure when they arrived, but they seem to be enjoying our hospitality and there are now many of them. Initially, they feasted on the basil.

Last week, they switched en masse to the coriander. While my instinct is telling me to throw the plants on the compost heap, having returned to university to study entomology, last year, there is now conflict in my thinking. These insects have piqued my interest and are making a good observational study in the warmth of the family home.

Whitefly are not actually flies. They sit within the classification order of true bugs (Hemiptera) as opposed to flies (Diptera). More than 1,500 species of whitefly have been described worldwide. Satin white, they stand out like freshly emerged snowdrops among scrubland at a woodlands edge. As I look closely, I see that their eggs are arranged like a neolithic stone circle seen upon our local moors.

Harlequin ladybirds, disturbed from their winter hibernation by the recent mild weather, have arrived late and now enjoy a meal of whitefly. While damage to the plants is already done, it is, so far, mostly cosmetic. Human consumers typically expect perfection in our shops and supermarkets. More often than not, perfection requires pesticides when a bit of insect protein would not harm.

Whitefly cause damage to plants as they tap the phloem to feast upon the sugars, have a toxic substances within their saliva that weakens plant growth, and excrete honeydew that coats the leaves and provides an ideal condition for mould growth.

I look online and see that some websites recommend gardeners plant basil among their tomato plants as the smell will deter whitefly. That deterrent has clearly not worked on my windowsill. There are a range of biological controls available to growers.

I imagine deploying a fleet of tiny parasitic wasps to seek out and devour the whitefly in my kitchen. Maybe I could sneak some out of my next university practical and avoid use of harmful pesticides or food waste.

Anyway, it is now time for lunch with the family. Homemade carrot and coriander soup, served with a seeded baguette and a few small secret ingredients … they will be none the wiser!