Cochenille breeding in Lanzarote

cochenille 3recolte cochenilleBy the middle of last century the  » Opuntia ficus indica « , more common nowadays as the Prickly Pear, was introduced to the island of Lanzarote imported from Mexico and cultivated in large plantations around the village of Guatiza.

CochenilleOn it´s surface a tiny louse, the cochineal, was bred to gain a very precious red dye stuff known as Carmine from the larvae, that was and still is in strong demand by the cosmetics, pharmacy and food industries.

Montagnes de feu de LanzaroteUsing a spatula, the larvae have to be sraped by hand from the thorny cactus, then purged, deadened in hot water, dried and finally ground. The procedure didn´t change a lot since and with a look the tininess of the insects, the effort needed to produce quantities of the final product is unimaginable!cochenille 5


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