cochineal insect

noun

: a small red cactus-feeding scale insect (Dactylopius coccus) the females of which are the source of cochineal

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The insects are dried and sold to processors, who extract carminic acid, which makes up around 20 percent in dry weight of the cochineal insect’s body. Brittany J. Miller, Smithsonian Magazine, 29 Mar. 2022 Today, Peru is the largest commercial producer of the D. coccus cochineal insect, followed by countries such as Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Spain’s Canary Islands. Brittany J. Miller, Smithsonian Magazine, 29 Mar. 2022 Finally, addition of a gene from the cochineal insect itself provided an enzyme that converted kermesic acid into carminic acid. Brittany J. Miller, Smithsonian Magazine, 29 Mar. 2022 That involves releasing cochineal insects that feed on the cactus, killing it off, but not spreading to any other plant species. Stephanie Bailey, CNN, 9 Dec. 2019 Carmine, a bright-red color, is created by crushing Armenian and Polish cochineal insects, species that are now endangered. Jackie Mansky, Smithsonian, 14 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cochineal insect.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1801, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cochineal insect was in 1801

Dictionary Entries Near cochineal insect

Cite this Entry

“Cochineal insect.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cochineal%20insect. Accessed 30 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

cochineal insect

noun

: a small bright red insect that is related to and resembles the mealybug, feeds on cacti, and yields cochineal

Medical Definition

cochineal insect

noun

: a small bright red cactus-feeding scale insect (Dactylopius coccus) the females of which are the source of cochineal
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