Cochineal (Dactylopius coccus Costa) production in prickly pear plants in the open and in microtunnel greenhouses

Aldama-Aguilera, C. C. Llanderal-Cázares, M. Soto-Hernández y L. E. Castillo-Márquez.
Agrociencia 39: 161-171., 2005.


Some countries produce cochineal in the open in order to obtain carminic acid as a natural red dye. In México, this is done on protected cut cladodes because of the environmental conditions, natural enemies, and competitors. This results in a disadvantage when compared to production in other countries. For this reason, prickly pear plants found in the open and protected in two types of microtunnel greenhouses were infested. Fresh and dry weight, carminic acid content, length of the biological cycle, the presence of natural enemies of the cochineal, as well as the resistance of the plant in various cycles were evaluated. The microtunnel made of transparent plastic was the best treatment to produce cochineal. The plants in this microtunnel resisted three cycles, the ones in the green raffia canvas resisted two cycles. The length of the biological cycle decreased when the temperature increased and was lower in the greenhouses than in the open. The carminic acid content ranged between 19.4 and 22.9%. The predators of Dactylopius coccus found were Baccha sp., Laetilia coccidivora Comstock, Hyperaspis trifurcate Shaeffer, Sympherobius sp. And the competitor Dactylopius opuntiae Cockerell.