Cochineal insects are soft-bodied, flat, oval-shaped scale insects (Wikipedia: Cochineal), “Indian Collecting Cochineal with a Deer Tail” by José Antonio de Alzate y Ramírez (1777) (Wikipedia, Cochineal), Miracle of the Slave by Tintoretto (c. 1548). What is cochineal. Cochineal is used to produce scarlet, crimson, orange, and other tints and to prepare pigments such as lake and carmine (qq.v.). Economically, they are essential because some of them could produce silk that is woven to create many types of clothing in different parts of the world. 1. Cochineal insects have proved very useful for the control of. Cochineal is an insect that feeds on certain species of cactus and from which a scarlet dye is obtained. The discovery of earth pigments and pigment grinding tools in an early Middle Stone Age deposit in Zambia suggests that early humans engaged in body and cave painting rituals as early as 400,000 years ago. 0. Description. Indeed, pesticide use has been shown to be associated with a large decrease in natural beneficial insect services. It is an insect native to the New World, which was used by the Aztecs for dying and painting. The Historical Impact of Cochineal. When chemists created inexpensive substitutes for Carmine Red, an industry and a way of life went into steep decline… The demand for cochineal fell sharply with the appearance on the market of alizarin crimson and many other artificial dyes discovered in Europe in the middle of the 19th century, causing a significant financial shock in Spain as a major industry almost ceased to exist” (Wikipedia, Ibid.). The concept of beneficial is subjective and only arises in light of desired outcomes from a human perspective. Her cargo contained 20,000 pounds of Cochineal” (Dutton, Ibid.). Whole Cochineal – Whole dried cochineal is a scale insect that invades the nopal cactus and is about the size of a grain of Arborio rice with a silvery purple hue.The best cochineal is dark and full of carminic acid. While the history of every pigment ever used by mankind has a fascinating geographical component, that of Carmine Red, also known as Cochineal, is particularly intriguing. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/technology/cochineal, Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden - Cochineal, Food-Info.net - Cochineal, Carmine, Carminic acid (E120). Cochineal scales—Dactylopius spp. Cochineal scale is a sucking insect that uses the cottony wax to shelter female insects (that produce the red dye) and egg masses. A. Eicchornia. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. During that time, vast quantities of the red dye were shipped to Europe… [Recently] The Santa Maria de Yciar, a Spanish ship which had sunk with a full load in 1541, was discovered. Carmine uses date back to the 1500s, when the Aztecs used these insects to dye fabrics. Its dyeing power is attributed to cochinealin, or carminic acid, obtained by boiling cochineal in water. The eggs hatch into nymphs (called crawlers) that feed for about three weeks before settling and becoming immobile. enhancing beneficial insects in agricultural landscapes that provide ecosystem services to crops. Cochineal, or carmine as it is commonly known, is a red insect dye that has been used for centuries to dye textiles, drugs, and cosmetics. Certain synthetic colors were competitors during the first decade of the twentieth century, but then were found to be carcinogenic. The food colorant is also called cochineal extract, which comes from the insect species Dactylopius coccus Costa. The dye was introduced into Europe from Mexico, where it had been used long before the coming of the Spaniards. Cochineal insects have proved very useful for the control of. The food colorant is also called cochineal extract, which comes from the insect species Dactylopius coccus Costa. After the insects have been discovered for over 200 years, exporting live cochineal insects was forbidden in Spain and the aim was to protect the … Insects are vital to us. Moreover, cochineal insects are in the order Homoptera. Mankind’s love of and quest for color in the form of pigments and dyes has motivated human aesthetics, exploration, exploitation, and experimentation since prehistoric times. The Iron-dads of the United States. Cochineal insects are seen through a microscope at a lab of the Cochineal Campaign in Nopaltepec, state of Mexico September 30, 2014. The son of a master dyer, Tintoretto used Carmine Red Lake pigment, derived from the cochineal insect, to achieve dramatic color effects (Wikipedia: Pigment), “The Milkmaid” by Johannes Vermeer (c. 1658). There was an intriguing story about the history of cochineal industry. Today, the demand for Cochineal is rebounding to a degree, ironically because of the fact that many of its synthetic substitutes have proven to be carcinogenic. However, the beneficial effects of insects to the environment supersede the damaging effects. It takes 70,000 insects to make one pound of cochineal. Insect - Insect - Insects as a source of raw materials: For primitive peoples who gathered food, insects were a significant food source. Another elusive dye associated with wealth and royal status, tyrian purple, was made from the glands of snails. A primarily sessile parasite native to tropical and subtropical South America and Mexico, this insect lives on cacti from the genus Opuntia, feeding on plant moisture and nutrients. Beneficial insects provide regulating ecosystem services to agriculture such as Pollination and the natural regulation of plant pests. North American dye-producing scales are also in the genus Dactylopius. Carminic acid, which occurs as 17-24% of the weight of the dry insects, can be extracted from the insect’s body and eggs and mixed with aluminum or calcium salts to make carmine dye (also known as Cochineal)” (source). Cochineal insects have proved very useful for the control of. Pigments produced from the cochineal insect gave the Catholic cardinals their vibrant robes and the English “Redcoats” their distinctive uniforms. 1. The true source of the pigment, an insect, was kept secret until the 18th century, when biologists discovered the source (Wikipedia: Pigment), Visiting Scholars – Policies and Procedures. The dry scaly excreta of coccids (Homoptera) on tamarisk or larch trees is the source of manna in the Sinai Desert. Carminic acid, which occurs as 17-24% of the weight of the dry insects, can be extracted from the insect’s body and eggs and mixed with aluminum or calcium salts to make carmine dye (also known as Cochineal)” . Life cycle of a typical cochineal insect Cochineal insects usually live in colonies or clusters of individuals grouped together on the surface of the cactus plants (fig. 7. The history of pigments such as Cochineal is reminiscent of that of the Beaver in the fur trade or Cinnamon in the ancient spice routes, in terms of human aesthetics, exploration, exploitation, and experimentation. They are generally classified as “natural” (organic) pigments—earth (e.g., ochres and iron oxides), mineral (usually made from ground-up, semi-precious stones, e.g., lapis lazuli used to make Ultramarine), and biological (for example, Tyrian Purple, made from whelks and Sepia, from cuttlefish)—or “synthetic” (inorganic) pigments (such as the nineteenth century aniline dyes, chemically produced from coal tar). ).Scale presence is undesirable on prickly pears planted as drought-tolerant ornamentals and thorny living fences and for their edible fruit and pads. The Egyptians were manufacturing pigments on a large scale by 4,000 BC, and the Chinese developed costly pigments such as Vermilion 2,000 years before it was rediscovered by the Romans. enhancing beneficial insects in agricultural landscapes that provide ecosystem services to crops. Vermeer was lavish in his choice of expensive pigments, including Indian Yellow, lapis lazuli, and Carmine, as shown in this vibrant painting. A primarily sessile parasite native to tropical and subtropical South America through North America (Mexico and the Southwest United States), this insect lives on cacti in the genus Opuntia, feeding on plant moisture and nutrients. We list a few cochineal insects products: foods made with crushed bugs below. C. Weeds. The color created from this cochineal dye is absolutely beautiful. Cochineal bugs are native to Central and South America, where their host plants, the cacti, also originated. The purpose of the paleolithic cave paintings is not known. The importance of beneficial insects is well known in our agriculture because the use of broad-spectrum pesticides decreases the diversity of natural enemy populations and increases the likelihood of pest outbreaks. Cochineal, red dyestuff consisting of the dried, pulverized bodies of certain female scale insects, Dactylopius coccus, of the Coccidae family, cactus-eating insects native to tropical and subtropical America. Dyes have been used to color anything from textiles to pottery since the Neolithic Period or New Stone Age, with the majority sourced from vegetables, plants and trees. Dyes differ from pigments, which are finely ground solids dispersed in a…. See also kermes. Pigments are materials which change reflected light’s color because of wavelength absorption. 0. The insect produces carminic acid that deters predation by other insects. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). If you were a European artist on a tight budget, you could procure your cochineal from shreds of dyed cloth, but fresh-ground insects yielded much better results. These sucking insects feed only on cacti, usually on prickly pear (Nopalea, Opuntia, and Platyopuntia spp. Both Incas and Aztecs used cochineal as a dye, which was so highly prized that bags of the dried bugs were used as currency or as tribute. The insects are found on the pads of prickly pear cacti, collected by brushing them off the plants, and dried. Now farmed mainly in Peru, millions of the tiny insects … Corrections? Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... …or purplish-red pigment obtained from cochineal (, Dye, substance used to impart colour to textiles, paper, leather, and other materials such that the colouring is not readily altered by washing, heat, light, or other factors to which the material is likely to be exposed. Cochineal extract, which comes from a scale insect, has been used as a red dye or coloring for centuries.Cochineal bugs (Dactylopius coccus) are true bugs belonging to the order Hemiptera.These tiny insects make a living by sucking the sap from cactus. We obtain only the finest grade cochineal on … When, in 1704, a Cochineal particle was placed under the microscope, van Leeuwenhoek exclaimed that it was a bug… Despite the detective work of van Leeuwenhoek… Spain’s monopoly over Cochineal was not lost until, in 1777, a French naturalist… managed to enter Oaxaca secretly on foot, where he collected samples of both the cactus pads and the insect” (Ibid.). The cochineal is a scale insect in the suborder Sternorrhyncha, from which the natural dye carmine is derived. By 1536, the royal Cochineal tribute amounted to 6,300 pounds of dye, and, when it was discovered that Cochineal was superior to Kermes and could be acquired in larger quantities by using cheaper labor, demand for the pigment ballooned and Cochineal became Spain’s second most profitable export item from the New World. The bright, red pigment was used by the Aztecs as early as the 10th century, it was exploited and monopolized by the Spanish for 300 years, its ingredients (crushed insects) were kept secret until the invention of the microscope and industrial espionage on the part of the French, and it is still used today in the textile, cosmetics, food, and medical research industries (though some of them also keep the ingredient secret).