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Cochineal (plus Ladybug) - Hyperaspis trifurcata

Cochineal (plus Ladybug) - Hyperaspis trifurcata
Irvine Park, Orange, Orange County, California, USA
February 24, 2006
(Written in October 2006, about 7 months after initial post)

The larvae of this coccinellid beetle, which turns out to be Hyperaspis trifurcata, feed on cochineal insects and appropriate the prey's defensive chemical, carminic acid, for their own protective purposes.

There are additional posts on this beetle.

While not yet seen by the author, a chamaemylid fly (Leucopis sp.) also has larvae which feed on the cochineal. Update December 2010: I've began to post the flies, which I found at Fullerton Arboretum.

Images of this individual: tag all
Cochineal - Dactylopius Cochineal (plus Ladybug) - Hyperaspis trifurcata Cochineal - Dactylopius Cochineal - Dactylopius


Moved from Dactylopius.

Moved from Dactylopius.

Moved from Soft Scale Insects.

This is a coccinellid in the cochineal wax filaments.

Thanks, Donald
I wasn't quite sure how it works. That's the adult beetle, and the others are larvae, right?

He meant there's a ladybug (Coccinelidae) among the cochineal insects (probably Dactylopius). There's a historical coincidence behind the similarity of the names Coccinellidae and Cochineal (related insects were used for red pigments in Roman times).

Moved to guide
under Dactylopius - but I found this site that names a family Dactylopiidae for this genus. Is Coccidae incorrect?

Confusing, but I think I get it
Coccidae is the ladybird, and the ladybird is incidental. Cochineal is the small insect in the white bubbly fiber and the intended subject for the photo.

No, Coccidae is soft scale insects
that's the family we have all our cochineal images filed under at present - I think it may not be correct. Ladybugs are Coccinellidae (yes, confusing!).

Thanks for the clarification.
No wonder I was so confused about who is who. The dye angle is fascinating. Just found out this is what made the Red Coats' coats red.

I have also found it as an ingredient in one of the Listerine mouthwashes.

Raspberry flavored yogurt and sorbet...
...also make the list. I asked a vegan friend what she thought about eating this small animal. She reports that's better than Red Dye #5, or any petro-based color for that matter.

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