Photo by Melody

Definition of Cochineal (Dactylopius coccus)

Categorized under "General"

Definition as written by Xenomorf:

Thumbnail of Cochineal (Dactylopius coccus) by Xenomorf
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Definition as written by faeden:

The white cotton fuzz-like material on the cactus in the above picture is a scale insect called Dactylopius coccus (the cochineal bug). It lives on the pads of certain prickly pears (Opuntia) and makes a red pigment that it stores in its body. The pads are colonized by female insects which are about inch long and are purplish black inside and silver outside. The pigmentation is called carminic acid and repels potential predators. This pigment was made into a red dye used by certain indigenous people in Mexico. These people farmed the cochineal bug by planting already infected pads and protecting the insects from animals, cold and rains. They produced a dye which was fast, brighter and better than anything in the Old World, and fabrics dyed in this manner were highly prized in Europe. After the cochineal was imported to other parts of the world, the Spanish monopoly came to a halt in the late 1700s. Navajo textiles woven 200 years ago were made using the thread from Spanish blankets which had been dyed with cochineal. These days cochineal is used in southern Mexican folk art, and is being considered as a replacement for the synthetic dyes which replaced the cochineal in the 20th century.

Definition as written by Xenomorf:

When rubbed, the crimson dye is revealed.

Thumbnail of Cochineal (Dactylopius coccus) by Xenomorf
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