California Cochineal

In the sixteenth century, one of the world's most precious commodities was cochineal, a legendary red dye treasured by the ancient Mexicans and sold in the great Aztec marketplaces, where it attracted the attention of the Spanish conquistadors. ...
" A Perfect Red" by Amy Butler tells the AMAZING story of cochineal.

https://books.google.com/books?id=rZImAQAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA19&lpg=RA1-PA19&dq=cochineal+confusus&source=bl&ots=eUD0Tf8wgv&sig=nmkvble_IvzI4a15WtinTrTZEvA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjYhIvOt9jXAhVrqlQKHVlRCFQ4ChDoAQgQMAM

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baldeagle suggested an ID
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1mo

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Cactus Scattered Cochineal
Dactylopius opuntiae
I’m confident these are Dactylopius opuntiae, based on information in this study of the ranges of Dactylopius species and their host plants within Mexico. Specifically:
• Only two species are found at altitudes as low as the 400-1200 feet of the Austin area: Dactylopius opuntiae and Dactylopius tomentosus.
• Although I haven’t yet found documentation of the ranges of in the United States, only one of those species is documented as far north in Mexico as states that border the United States: Dactylopius opuntiae.
• Dactylopius opuntiae also is found in wetter climates—wetter, at least, than the near-desert conditions favored by Dactylopius tomentosus.
• Perhaps more to the point, only one of those species—again, Dactylopius opuntiae—causes damage to the host plant that is as severe as the damage we see in Central Texas.
• Finally, unlike most if not all other species in this genus, Dactylopius opuntiae is tiny. By that I mean that the others are much easier to see—bigger than an aphid but no bigger than the larva of a ladybug. But Dactylopius opuntiae is so small that it’s all but impossible to locate through its cocoon. Although we can’t determine that from these photos, that has been true of every cochineal bug I’ve ever examined in Texas. By contrast, when touring a cochineal farm in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, I had no trouble seeing Dactylopius coccus, even with the cocoon in place.
In other words, based on all these factors, I think it’s safe to say that any observation of cochineal insects in Texas—except, perhaps in the Trans-Pecos region—is Dactylopius opuntiae.
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Publicado por jwparker2 jwparker2, 25 de noviembre de 2017

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