Cochineal (Dactylopius coccus) LC

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dried cochineal insects photo by X. Zhang


The cochineal is a scale insect in the suborder Sternorrhyncha, from which the natural dye carmine is derived. Cochineal lives on catcti in the genus Opuntia. Cochineal is native to tropical and subtropical South America as well as Mexico and Arizona. These insects are brushed off and dried for storage.

The insect produces carminic acid that deters predation by other insects. Carminic acid, typically 17-24% of dried insects' weight, can be extracted, then mixed with aluminium or calcium salts to make carmine dye.

Historical importance

Summary of results

Analytical instrumentation and procedures


Absorbance at 350nm (mAU)

Sample information

sample information, By R. A. Laursen, Boston University

Identified compounds

Carminic acid UV

Carminic acid UV.PNG

Compound RT (min.) MW UV/vis Other
carminic acid xx0 xx xx Comments here
x x x x
x x x x
x x x x


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