Cochineal Scale Insect (Dactylopiidae, Dactylopius spp.)
(Class Insecta, Order Hemiptera)
Invertebrates Around Las Vegas, Wildlife Around Las Vegas
Cochineal (Dactylopius spp.)
Flightless female or larvae cochineal insect

General: Cochineal (Dactylopius spp.) are "scale insects," a group of very small bugs with mouthparts modified into a beak capable of piercing plants and sucking fluids. Adult males have wings and fly about mating with flightless females. Females live on pricklypear cactus (Opuntia spp.), and around Las Vegas, seem to prefer Tulip Pricklypear. Females lay eggs that hatch to produce flightless larvae. The females and larvae create a protective silk-like waxy material under which they safely feed on the cactus.

As an added defence against predation, cochineal females and larvae produce a bad-tasting chemical -- carminic acid, which is reddish. Since at least the 15th century, Central American people used a manufacturing process to convert carminic acid to carmine dye, which is then used to color fabrics. See Wikipedia article.

Taxonomy: Class Insecta (Insects), Order Hemiptera (True Bugs), Suborder Sternorrhyncha (Plant-parasitic Hemipterans), Superfamily Coccoidea, Family Dactylopiidae (Cochineal).

Cochineal (Dactylopius spp.)
Tulip Pricklypear infested with Cochineal
Cochineal (Dactylopius spp.)
Tulip Pricklypear infested with Cochineal
Cochineal (Dactylopius spp.) Cochineal (Dactylopius spp.)
Cochineal (Dactylopius spp.) Cochineal (Dactylopius spp.)
Cochineal (Dactylopius spp.)
Flightless female or larvae cochineal insect
Cochineal (Dactylopius spp.)
Flightless female or larvae cochineal insect
Cochineal (Dactylopius spp.)
Cochineal body fluids with red carminic acid staining my finger
Cochineal (Dactylopius spp.)
Cochineal body fluids with red carminic acid staining my finger
Cochineal (Dactylopiidae, Dactylopius spp.)
Cochineal on Prickly Pear in southern Arizona (Dactylopius confusus)
Cochineal (Dactylopiidae, Dactylopius spp.)
Cochineal on Prickly Pear in southern Arizona (Dactylopius confusus)
Cochineal (Dactylopiidae, Dactylopius spp.)
Cochineal on Prickly Pear in southern Arizona (Dactylopius confusus)
Cochineal (Dactylopiidae, Dactylopius spp.)
Cochineal on Prickly Pear in southern Arizona (Dactylopius confusus)
Cochineal (Dactylopiidae, Dactylopius spp.)
Cochineal on Prickly Pear in southern Arizona
Cochineal (Dactylopiidae, Dactylopius spp.)
Cochineal on Prickly Pear in southern Arizona
Cochineal (Dactylopiidae, Dactylopius spp.)
Cochineal on Prickly Pear in southern Arizona
Cochineal (Dactylopiidae, Dactylopius spp.)
Cochineal on Prickly Pear in southern Arizona
Cochineal (Dactylopiidae, Dactylopius spp.)
Cochineal on Prickly Pear in central Texas
Cochineal (Dactylopiidae, Dactylopius spp.)
Cochineal on Prickly Pear in central Texas
Cochineal (Dactylopiidae, Dactylopius spp.)
Cochineal on Prickly Pear in central Texas (Dactylopius coccus)
Cochineal (Dactylopiidae, Dactylopius spp.)
Cochineal on Prickly Pear in central Texas (Dactylopius coccus)
Cochineal (Dactylopiidae, Dactylopius spp.)
Cochineal on Prickly Pear in central Texas (Dactylopius coccus)
Cochineal (Dactylopiidae, Dactylopius spp.)
Cochineal on Prickly Pear in central Texas (Dactylopius coccus)

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 140925

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