Cochineal, The Red Dye from the Americas


Centuries ago, Mesoamericans began raising an insect to create a vivid, long lasting, red dye. The cochineal insect lives on nopal (prickly pear) cactus. By managing infestations in cactus plantations and harvesting the insects, large quantities of dye could be produced. Aztec rulers valued the dye, and demanded tribute in the form of dried insects and dyed cloth. Later, the Spanish also valued the dye. Cochineal became Mexico’s second largest export after silver, and was widely used across Europe. It became the source of the color of the British red coats. Although cochineal has been mostly replaced by synthetic dyes for fabrics, it is still used today as a food coloring

On Saturday, February 2, 2019, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Learn the processes for raising cochineal insects and using them to dye a range of exciting colors.