Cochineal Scale Insects infesting a Pricly-Pear Cactus
Drawings of the Cochineal insects
Cochineal Extract. A very valuable and expensive dye is derived from the crushed bodies of millions of these small insects and in PreColumbian times it was widely traded from Mexico to Peru and up to the Southern United States. It is valuable in making varnishes and in tanning leather red or staining carved wooden objects. It was also traded across the Pacific into India and Southern Asia as was noted on an earlier blog posting, and the prickly-pear cactus it grows on along with it. Neither the insect or the cactus is native to that part of the world. Since the Cochineal bugs are also found on the Canary Islands, they might also have been present on Atlantis when it was above the waves: but the common explanation is that the bugs were imported to the Canary Islands by the Spanish Conquistadores.
Best Wishes, Dale D.