Crimson Critters: The Amazing Story of Cochineal Insects

 May 27th, 2024

Team LTG

Ever wondered where vibrant red dyes come from? Meet the cochineal insect, a tiny creature with a big impact on color! 

They're small-scale insects that feed on cactus plants. Native to the Americas, but now cultivated worldwide. 

hat Are Cochineal Insects?

Cochineal insects produce carminic acid, a red pigment that makes carmine dye. It's found in many products! 

The Source of Carmine

Carmine is a natural alternative to artificial red dyes, but it can cause allergic reactions in some people. 

Natural vs. Artificial Dyes

Found in food (like yogurt and candy), cosmetics (lipstick, blush), and even some textiles. 

Uses of Carmine

Insects are harvested, dried, and crushed to extract the carminic acid, which is then processed into dye. 

How is Carmine Made?

Cochineal was used by Aztec and Mayan cultures for dyes and paints long before modern uses. 

Ancient History

Some people have concerns about using insects in food, while others prefer natural dyes over artificial ones. 

A Controversial Color

Whether you're a fan or not, the cochineal insect's legacy is undeniable.