Bug collecting 101
Cochineal was once a prized insect valued for its crimson color before chemical dyes were available. The color of the cochineal was found on the uniforms of the British soldiers during the revolutionary war and some historians believe Betsy Ross’s red on the first United States flag was the red of the cochineal. Cochineal was in the paints of Michelangelo's paintings. The Canadian Mounted police red coat was cochineals. So as I collect these little insects I realize that I am not merely collecting a insect but a piece of history.
I was busy scraping the cochineal at eye level happy to find that the bugs were coming off the cacti easily. In the future I would use a spoon since as you scrape the cochineal they tend to fall on the ground. They aren’t too bad a insect to collect and it was kind of fun. I had some gloves but they weren’t necessary. The cochineal looks like little bits of cottage cheese and you can’t even tell it’s a bug. I was trying to get about an ounce but this is all I could collect. You can only get as many that are available.
It takes a lot of insect bodies to get the true crimson color.So today I will squish and then it will take a day to get the wool to obsorb the color.
Maulie was happy to go on a walk.
Squish of the cochineal
A rolling pin works well to achieve the color.
from Cheri the cochineal killer.