Guardian Nature School Team Contact Blog Project Noah Facebook Project Noah Twitter

A global community of nature enthusiasts
photographing and learning about wildlife

Join Project Noah!
nature school apple icon

Project Noah Nature School visit nature school


Dactylopius coccus


The cochineal (/kɒtʃɨˈniːl/ koch-i-neel or /ˈkɒtʃɨniːl/ koch-i-neel; Dactylopius coccus) is a scale insect in the suborder Sternorrhyncha, from which the crimson-coloured dye carmine is derived. 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.


This scale lives on Opuntia (pad) cacti.


When you touch the white fuzz, it turns into beautiful purple fluid (see second picture). The Aztec used this as a dye for the clothing of the most powerful members of the society, and after the conquest (holocaust) of South America, it was harvested and sent to Europe for use as a dye there.

Species ID Suggestions

Sign in to suggest organism ID

No Comments

Ava T-B
Spotted by
Ava T-B

San Diego, California, USA

Spotted on Sep 18, 2011
Submitted on Sep 18, 2011

Related Spottings

Grana cochinilla Cochineal Cochineal Scales Cochineal

Nearby Spottings

Poinsettia, or noche buena Western Conifer Seed Bug Spotting Eurasian Collard Dove


Noah Guardians
Noah Sponsors
join Project Noah Team

Join the Project Noah Team