Red dye has been very rare to get from natural sources. Situation changed when Spanish brought cochineal scale insects and their host plant opuntia cacti from Mexico. Climate in the Canary islands was suitable for opuntia farming. Huge plantations were planted in to the drier islands. Nowadays most of them are abandoned.


These scale insects produce large amounts of red and purplish red pigments.

I found several wild opuntia bushes when we were visiting Fuerteventura. These plants had cochineal bugs that I collected to take home. Most of these scale insects were dead and dry, but I think they will still give dye pigments. All bugs were dried before trip to home.