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Dactylopius coccus Costa
Colors Obtained
Vermilion, Purple, Bluish Red, Red, Pink
Dye Ingredients
Carminic acid, Kermesic acid, flavokermesic acid
This dye-insect is native to Central America and lives exclusively on cactuses, preferring the spineless prickly pear or nopal (Nopalea cochenilli). The sucking female lice become covered with a white substance so that their original brown-red colour is only   seen when they first settle. When pierced, they exude a dark red drop. Soon after the discovery of Mexico by the Spaniards in 1512, cochineal began a worldwide conquest. There were whole fleets of vessels transporting cochineal to Spain . Its qualities as a dye surpassed that of the dye-insects of the Old World many times, both in the volume of dye produced as well as in the brilliance of the colour. Female cochineal lice are wingless and do not move, although they do have legs. They are fertilized by the males, which can fly. Shortly before the females lay their eggs, they are gathered and dried. The raw material for cochineal consists of the bodies of the dried females containing their eggs.