cochineal

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Related to Dactylopius coccus: Cochineal scale

cochineal

(kŏchĭnēl`, kŏch`ĭnēl), natural dye obtained from an extract of the bodies of the females of the cochineal bug (Dactylopius confusus) found on certain species of cactus, especially Nopalea cochenillifera, also classified as Opuntia cochenillifera, native to Mexico and Central America. The insects' bodies contain the pigment called carminic acid, which is obtained by subjecting a mass of the crushed insects to steam or dry heat; such large numbers of the insects are needed to produce a small amount of dye that the cost is high. Once commonly used as a scarlet-red mordant dye for wool and as a food color, cochineal has been largely replaced by synthetic products. It is used chiefly now as a biological stain.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Cochineal

 

the general name for several species of insects of various families of the suborder Cocciodea, the females of which are used to make a red dye called carmine. Mexican cochineal (Dactylopius coccus), the most highly valued species, lives on the cochineal cactus. Native to Mexico, it is also cultivated in Central America, Western Europe (Spain), North Africa, and eastern Asia and has almost entirely replaced other species on the world market. Other cochineal species include Armenian cochineal (Porphyrophora hamelii ), which is found in Armenia on the roots of grasses, and Polish cochineal (P. polonicd), found in Western Europe and the European USSR on the roots of strawberries and other herbaceous plants. In the 20th century the development of synthetic dyes has sharply reduced the cultivation of cochineal insects, although natural carmine is still used in some industries, such as food processing and perfume manufacture, and for staining microscopic preparations.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

cochineal

[′käch·ə‚nēl]
(chemistry)
A red dye made of the dried bodies of the female cochineal insect (Coccus cacti), found in Central America and Mexico; used as a biological stain and indicator.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

cochineal

1. a Mexican homopterous insect, Dactylopius coccus, that feeds on cacti
2. 
a. the colour of this dye
b. (as adjective): cochineal shoes
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Guatemala, meanwhile, became the main supplier of cochineal to the British textile industry, while the Dutch enjoyed moderate success in their effort to transplant Dactylopius coccus to Java as part of their Cultivation System in the 1820s.
It probably would have been possible to transplant cochineal from Mexico to India in the late eighteenth century, given that the Dutch were able to cultivate Dactylopius coccus in Java in the 1820s.
Produccion de grana cochinilla (Dactylopius coccus Costa) en plantas de nopal a la intemperie y en microtuneles.
Produccion de grana-cochinilla Dactylopius coccus (Homoptera: Dactylopiidae) en invernadero.
Dactylopius coccus Costa, 1829 es una especie de gran importancia comercial, debido a que de las hembras adultas se obtiene el colorante rojo acido carminico, el cual tiene una gran cantidad de aplicaciones en diferentes industrias, principalmente en la de los alimentos, la farmaceutica y la de los cosmeticos (Mendez et al.
Potential fecundity of Dactylopius coccus (Hemiptera: Dactylopiidae) under greenhouse conditions
Dentro de esta superfamilia, la familia Dactylopiidae es una de las mas importantes, ya que en ella se encuentra la grana cochinilla Dactylopius coccus Costa, 1829, especie de gran importancia economica pues de ella se obtiene el colorante rojo acido carminico, el cual se usa con varios fines industriales (Vigueras & Portillo 2001).