Attractions on Lanzarote
- Cochenille breeding near Guatiza - Photos
By the middle of last
century the " Opuntia ficus indica ", more common
nowadays as the Prickly Pear, was introduced to the island
imported from Mexico and cultivated in large plantations
around the village of Guatiza. On 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. Using 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 imageinable.