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Former featured articleCochineal is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
Main Page trophyThis article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on September 3, 2009.
Article milestones
July 26, 2005Featured article candidateNot promoted
June 22, 2006Featured article candidatePromoted
August 27, 2015Featured article reviewDemoted
Current status: Former featured article


Have a nice picture of wool dyed with cochineal but am newbie and would probably do something silly to article Saintswithin 20:43, 26 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Book recommendation[edit]

There is a great book I just read called "A Perfect Red : Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire" which gives a very well-written history of the trade in and importance of cochineal from the time of the Spanish conquest up to the present day. I'm surprised it wasn't referenced in this article, perhaps it had not yet been published. It is truly a great reference on the subject. Author is Amy Butler Green, ISBN 0060522755, available at all the online or brick-and-mortar bookstores. Herodotus73 22:50, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

Tuna blood[edit]

What's tuna blood? FireWorks 06:26, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

Just as you may expect.... the blood from a TUNA... (Tuna is a fish by the way...) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:24, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

Tuna is the name of the Opuntia cactus upon which the insect depends. Kortoso (talk) 17:39, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

A bit more on history[edit]

I just copied this from the spanish wikipedia. Please someone more fluent in english than me translates it and adds it to the article:

En 1822 las Cortes de Cádiz mandaron estudiar las provincias que, por su temperatura, fueran las más apropiadas para su cultivo, resultando las Islas Canarias las más apropiadas para su explotación. A partir de entonces, el cultivo de la cochinilla no hizo más que aumentar, convirtiéndose en un auténtico río de oro a mediados del siglo XIX.

--euyyn 01:43, 19 July 2006 (UTC)

"In 1822, the Cortes of Cadiz studied which provinces would be the most appropriate for cultivation. The result was that the Canary Islands most appropriate for the exploitation of

cochineal. Thereafter, cochineal cultivation increased in the mid-nineteenth century." How's that? Kortoso (talk) 17:43, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

Carminic vs kermesic acid[edit]

I removed the reference to kermesic acid from the article, as it siggested that it is the same compound as carminic acid. These are, in fct, two different compounds. Their formulas are very similar though. See [1], where I is the formula for carminic acid and II is the formula for kermesic acid. Kpalion 19:25, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

(Spelling errors corrected^) siggested = Suggested. fct - Fact. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:25, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

Polish cochineal[edit]

Editors of this featured article may be interested in the peer review of an article about Polish cochineal, cochineal's Central European cousin. Kpalion 20:08, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

Natural or artificial[edit]

From reading about this dye, I thought that it was actually referred to as a "natural" ingredient in food, etc, since "natural" means from an animal or plant. This article says that it is an "artificial" ingredient, however. Which is the case?--Gloriamarie 05:12, 17 June 2007 (UTC)

No, the article only once mentions that it is sometimes labeled as "artificial colouring". What it is, and how it is labeled, can potentially be at odds. I do not believe it is usual practice to label it as artificial, and - though this is only my suppostion - I believe that the use of any dye, regardless of whether the dye itself is natural or synthetic, constitutes an "artificial colour" (in other words, it confers a color that is not what the product would otherwise possess). Dyanega 09:58, 17 June 2007 (UTC)
The article on Carmine mentions that the ingredient may be listed as Carmine, Crimson Lake, Cochineal, Natural Red 4, C.I. 75470, E120, "natural coloring", or "added coloring", not "artificial coloring". In the US, I've seen it listed as "Cochineal Extract" (in PowerBars) and Carmine. I'll change the phrase in this article from "artificial" to "natural". Matthias Blume 00:46, 26 December 2007 (UTC)
If anyone needs further clarification, foods colored by so-called natural colors (there is no legal definition for natural colors per the FDA) are considered artifically colored in the U.S. So cherry juice colored with cochineal is artifically colored (as is cherry juice colored by cabbage juice, or elderberry). The only time it's not artifically colored is if you use cherry juice to color it, which makes it all a bit moot, but that's the law. You can't use the term natural coloring, but the FDA says you have to use the common name for carmine and cohineal because of the allergy issues. See Federal Register Sigh Ns (talk) 21:09, 2 April 2009 (UTC)

Union suit[edit]

Was the famous red Union suit dyed with cochineal or carmine? Badagnani (talk) 23:49, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

WikiProject Food and drink Tagging[edit]

This article talk page was automatically added with {{WikiProject Food and drink}} banner as it falls under Category:Food or one of its subcategories. If you find this addition an error, Kindly undo the changes and update the inappropriate categories if needed. The bot was instructed to tagg these articles upon consenus from WikiProject Food and drink. You can find the related request for tagging here . Maximum and carefull attention was done to avoid any wrongly tagging any categories , but mistakes may happen... If you have concerns , please inform on the project talk page -- TinucherianBot (talk) 17:35, 3 July 2008 (UTC)

Intro paragraph[edit]

The intro paragraph to this article was very confusing to read. I have attempted to clean it up a bit and clarify that this article is primarily about the insect, while carmine is the primary article for the dye. If it looks like I've made it worse, please feel free to revert. Kaldari (talk) 19:27, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

Suggest changing "no more than 1 in 10,000" to "as many as..." or "up to 1 in 10,000" —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:49, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

History section[edit]

The spread of cochineal cultivation may need sorting out, especially in relation to the Mexican War of Independence in the early nineteenth century. The text implies that the spread occurred thereafter; a source would be helpful here. Kablammo (talk) 00:53, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

One reason for its popularity is that, unlike many commercial synthetic red dyes, it is not toxic or carcinogenic.[edit]

This statement really needs [citation needed]. What studies have been done to ensure there are no carcinogenic qualities of chemicals present in Cochineal? Really, if I was looking for a new, horrid, carcinogenic toxin, the place I would start looking is the juices of various insects.

This statement also spreads the myth that naturally sourced chemicals are somehow safer than their laboratory sourced equivalents.Robbak (talk) 05:07, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

Found a reference that someone will have to go through to get the needed info from: [2]. Hope this helps. Don't have time to cite it properly right now. Hires an editor (talk) 12:27, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
I went ahead and changed the sentence to match the reference, and make it more neutral. Nothing says it's not carcinogenic, it's just implied that it's not because of the fact that other things are. Hires an editor (talk) 14:16, 3 September 2009 (UTC)


Under this heading there's a Citation Needed on the last sentence: "Adult males can be distinguished from females by their diminutive size and their wings.[citation needed]." Perhaps this CN is out of date and should be removed? Because the article now has an image which clearly shows the diff twixt males and females. Forton (talk) 05:14, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

OK, I see a citation has now been added, thank you. I guess there's no rule that says an article can become an FA with a CN still hanging. Forton (talk) 06:01, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

Allergy claim - !?![edit]

The citation about the allergenic effects ( is a bad link. After trying to find the correct link to the FDA site (, CFR 73.100 and 73.1100 makes no direct reference to allergic reactions of cochineal. If someone has a better link, please add. In the meantime, I'm identifying the sentence as needing a better citation. Dagordon01 (talk) 10:55, 3 September 2009 (UTC)dagordon01

The {{fact}} tag was removed almost immediately by Mm40. (11:31, 3 September 2009 Mm40 (talk | contribs) (25,976 bytes) (Removing {{fact}} tags; you don't need refs in lead)).

This would surprise me as it is perhaps more important that statements in the leading section of an article are substantiated. I've had a quick skim of

and could find nothing suggesting that refs aren't needed in the leading section of an article. If I've missed something then I live and learn but for now I'm planning to remove this part (at least from the top of the article) reason being that it seems very POV to me. Just about anything can be allergenic. If anyone can find a source to back-up the idea that Cochineal is generally harmful (or at least some figures as to how many people are allergic - not 'up to x people') it should go back in but till then I'll remove it. IanOfNorwich (talk) 17:42, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

The lede is a summary of the article; if it is not in the article, the fact should not be summarized in the lede. Many folks (me among them) prefer to keep citations out of the lede after making sure that the proposition is adequately cited in the body; others differ. Kablammo (talk) 17:45, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

I can see the logic in that, Kablammo, and if the article backed up the statement and showed that it was significant enough to be included in the lede/lead/top bit ?? of the article I'd be all for keeping it. But while it does seem to support that the FDA requires food to be labled to show that it contains cochineal, it doesn't support the idea that it posses any significant risk. For reference here is the text I have now removed:

Cochineal dyes have health risks. Unlike hypothetical risks extrapolated from tests on other species (rats), cochineal-based dyes and derivatives (Blue 2, also known as Indigo Carmine [sometimes used in nylon sutures]), E120, carmine, caramine, carminic acid, crimson lake, Ponceau, E124, cochineal Red A) cause allergic reactions in no more than 1 in 10,000 consumers. The U.S. Center for Science in the Public Interest has called on the FDA to remove insect-based dyes from the approved list of dyes.

IanOfNorwich (talk) 17:51, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

My understanding is that having references in the lede is up to the style of the article, and the people who are involved in it. Some articles have references in the lede, others don't. Just a matter of taste. The lede should have a summary, and obviously the part that was removed is very detailed, and should be referenced and more detailed in the article proper. There is some evidence that it's an allergen in rare cases (which I referenced in the article), but what was deleted doesn't belong in the lede. Hires an editor (talk) 22:52, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

I'll note (as an entomologist) that the list of dyes above includes several which are not derived from the cochineal insect. Given the specificity of allergic reactions, one has to wonder what sort of study would fail to distinguish between different sources of these chemicals and simply treat all insect-based dyes as if they were the same thing? It isn't correct to blame cochineal dye for ALL cases of insect dye allergy. First, the quote above would need a proper citation, and second, it would need to be rephrased to correctly indicate that these findings apply broadly to a variety of insect-based dyes, and not necessarily to cochineal. Dyanega (talk) 23:07, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

British Redcoats[edit]

The current article includes an illustration c. 1742 of a private in the quintessential British Redcoat, the implication being such uniforms were dyed with cochineal. However, in the 18th century, cochineal was enormously expensive, and redcoats for non-officers were dyed with madder. The use of cochineal for all ranks didn't begin for nearly 150 years after this, and cochineal produces a distinctly brighter shade of red.

I am thus removing the illustration; if someone can find an accurate illustration or photo, pl. replace it. FellGleaming (talk) 00:01, 22 March 2010 (UTC)

Incoherence with regard to color stability[edit]

Have a look at: "In artist's paints, it has been replaced by synthetic reds and is largely unavailable for purchase due to poor lightfastness." vs. "Cochineal is one of the few water-soluble colorants that resist degradation with time." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:02, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

"Homoptera" is gone (paraphyletic), please fix[edit]

The taxobox says "Homoptera", and Homoptera says that this order is deprecated. Scale_insect says Order=Hemiptera, Suborder=Stenorrhyncha, but I'm not sure how correct is that. Maybe somebody who really knows this stuff can fix it. --Ralf Muschall (talk) 19:39, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

Starbucks controversy...[edit]

Does it deserve a mention? Hires an editor (talk) 12:07, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

Always tricky to know about such time-dependent news stories. It does illustrate the point that the colourant is a problem for some people because it's insect-derived. But I personally would remove it, although I don't feel strongly about it. Peter coxhead (talk) 12:28, 20 April 2012 (UTC)


Is there an etymology section in this article? If so, I must have overlooked it. From

"1580s, from French cochenille (16c.), probably from Spanish cochinilla, from a diminutive of Latin coccinus (adj.) "scarlet-colored," from coccum "berry (actually an insect) yielding scarlet dye" (see kermes). But some sources identify the Spanish source word as cochinilla "wood louse" (a diminutive form related to French cochon "pig")."

Kortoso (talk) 17:47, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

Good. Put it in! SBHarris 02:49, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, I will try and paraphrase. Kortoso (talk) 00:14, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
Done; please move it if you see a better place. Kortoso (talk) 00:31, 16 November 2013 (UTC)

Year of first formal description[edit]

The categorization as "Animals first described in ...." as I understand it really means "first formally given a currently accepted name or a synonym of a currently accepted name". Certainly this is how it is described for plant species at the explanatory page Wikipedia:PLANTS/Description in year categories. So if Linnaeus' 1758 name Coccus cacti is the earliest name for this species, the correct year seems to be 1758. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:02, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

That might be the case for plants but for animals it is the year it acquired its current species epithet which in this case would be coccus from Costa, 1835. The only exception is when species have had to be re-named to prevent homonyms but that does not appear to be the case in this instance Elspooky (talk) 11:02, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
Ah, ok. Is the situation for organisms under the "animal code" documented anywhere? If so, it would be good to add some links from the category pages – this is otherwise a bit mysterious! Peter coxhead (talk) 11:19, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
(Actually coccus is not an "epithet" – this is a botanical term – but a name. Peter coxhead (talk) 11:23, 6 April 2014 (UTC))
I've now corrected the year in the category. I've also added a note to the lead at Wikipedia:PLANTS/Description in year categories to stress that it only covers plant species. Peter coxhead (talk) 11:27, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
Yeah I know it's not an epithet. I've just been dealing with a lot of plants lately and used it out of habit. I'm pretty sure the ICZN has a section on what counts as the year of formal description. I've just got to find it (and the code is not very exciting to read)

Disambiguation from Porphyrophora species[edit]

The literature on scale insects and insect dyes, from the 19th century to today, is full of references to "Armenian" cochineal, "Polish" cochineal, and "American" or "Mexican" cochineal. Originally not knowing anything about these species, I thought that they must be three varieties of the same family and was surprised that the Cochineal article only mentioned Dactylopius coccus and did not mention the synonyms "American cochineal" and "Mexican cochineal" or discuss the use of the word "cochineal" for the other two dye-producing species Porphyrophora hamelii (Armenian cochineal) and Porphyrophora polonica (Polish cochineal), which have their own Wikipedia articles. It appears to me that some time after the Dactylopius dyes became the predominant red insect dye in the Western world a few hundred years ago, European and American authors appropriated the name of the New World insect "cochineal" (Dactylopius coccus) and applied it to the Old World insects of the Porphyrophora genus. Since these Old World species are quite commonly (if incorrectly) called "cochineal", it seems that the Cochineal article should include some information about these other species and how they are not "true" cochineals. Perhaps some information could be added to the history section of the article, along with a sentence in the lede section or a template at the top at the article (Template:Redirect6, Template:Other_uses, Template:About, etc.), that mentions Porphyrophora hamelii and Porphyrophora polonica? I hesitate to make the changes myself because this is a Featured Article and because I am not an expert in this field. Ketone16 (talk) 18:24, 11 October 2014 (UTC)

FAR needed[edit]

This is a 2006 FA that has not been maintained to current WP:WIAFA standards. There is a good deal of dated text, uncited text, and lacking as of dates, among other items (not all of which are tagged). Is anyone able to bring this article to standard, to avoid a Featured article review? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:53, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

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Scarlet vs. Crimson[edit]

I think the etymology section has the colors reversed: cochineal gives a crimson dye, whereas kermes gives a scarlet dye. At least, this is my recollection from reading Cardon's treatise. Now, it is possible that the actual name of the insect is related to a name that meant scarlet since the kermes insects historically seem to have been conflated with the carminic acid-bearing insects, but I think that it's not right to say that cochineal yields scarlet whereas kermes yields crimson. Ketone16 (talk) 00:53, 6 September 2016 (UTC)

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