Sunday, November 6, 2011

Seeing Red!

Yuk, yuk, what is this white stuff on our cacti?? 
  I keep hosing this stuff off and it keeps coming back!I am so frustrated that I am seeing RED!
I am almost ready to cut them all down. 

Didn't have the heart to cut this down.  Do you see the heart shaped pads?

This scale insect produces a crimson dye?  Who would have known?

Conchineal Dye Bath

Conchineal dyed coat

Cochineal dyed silk

The cochineal (/kɒtʃɨˈniːl/ koch-i-neel or /ˈkɒtʃɨniːl/ koch-i-neel; Dactylopius coccus) is a scale insect in the suborder Sternorrhyncha, from which the crimson-coloured dye carmine is derived. A primarily sessile parasite native to tropical and subtropical South America and Mexico, this insect lives on cacti from the genus Opuntia, feeding on plant moisture and nutrients.
The insect produces carminic acid that deters predation by other insects. Carminic acid, which occurs as 17-24% of the weight of the dry insects, can be extracted from the insect's body and eggs and mixed with aluminum or calcium salts to make carmine dye (also known as cochineal).[1] Carmine is today primarily used as a food colouring and for cosmetics.

Well, I can either scrape the scale off and use it for dye or food coloring (probably not), or I can spray the cacti with dish soap which I understand usually makes the bugs sick and they dehydrate and die.  I think I might try to dish soap remedy.  I hope this works.  Well, this certainly turned out to be an interesting investigation.

Joining Shanda at Pause on the Path for

Have a Blessed Day,                                                                              
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