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On Sun, 25 May 1997 alias@xxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:

>     Cochineal is an insect?  Here in the Southwest, I've always known 
> it the white stuff that accumulates on cacti, especioally those with 
> flat pads. Kids scrape it off, put it in their hands, and clap, 
> because it turns them a vibrant red color on impact.  I always asume 
> it was a fungus or something.  Thanks for the warning.
>     I do know that carmine coloring is derived from beetles. 

I checked my dictionary, and it looks like carmine and cochineal are two 
names for the same thing.  The cochineal insects frequently live on cacti, 
and only the bodies of the female give the red color.  Apparently they're 
a scale-like insect.  
My plants have been infected by scale in the past, and I've always had 
difficulty believing they were insects since they look rather like a 
small sticky patch of dead skin on the leaf.

Susan "Itty-bitty bugs or fungus--ethical difference = ?" Lehman
UNC-Chapel Hill