Cochineal bugs

Cochineal Bugs - Whole


Cochineal (Dactylopus coccus) is a scale insect that feeds on the nopal cactus in arid areas of Mexico, Peru, Chile, and the Canary Islands. It is the only natural red colorant approved by the United States FDA for use in food and cosmetics.

Raw cochineal is a silvery-purple dried insect about the size of a large grain of rice. They look like tiny scarabs. The best raw cochineal is dark and full of carminic acid. Weigh out the quantity desired, grind to a powder (a coffee grinder works great), and then boil in some water to extract a gorgeous red. Cochineal is pH sensitive and it is possible to shift its color to scarlet on protein fiber with the addition of acid, e.g. cream of tartar. Deep colors are not achievable with hard water; soft water or distilled water is a must.

Color: Fuchsia to Raspberry