Geographical Range Southwestern United States to South America; introduced to the Canary Islands (off the northwestern coast of Africa)
Habitat Deserts, shrublands, cactus plantations
Scientific Name Dactylopius coccus
Conservation Status Not listed by IUCN

If you've ever eaten or drunk processed food products that are dyed red, you've probably eaten parts of these insects! You wouldn't know it by looking at their fuzzy, white bodies, but cochineal insects contain an edible red dye. The dye is used to color cloth and many foods, such as jellies and juices.

The cochineal insect is a type of scale insect.