Polish Cochineal

Polish Cochineal

Life Cycle of Porphyrophora polonica & perennial Knawel
From: Breyn, Johann Philip (1731) Historia naturalis Cocci Radicum Tincttorii quod Polonicum vulgo audit

Porphyrophora polonica is a scale insect known as Polish cochineal. At times, it has been commercially cultivated to produce a red dye based on its carminic acid content. It was primarily cultivated in the area of Eastern Europe that now contains Poland and Ukraine. In the 1400 and 1500s, trade in the dye flourished. Trade plummeted when the Spanish began to import Mexican cochineal from North America in the 1540s. It became no longer profitable to produce the dye and knawel cultivation was replaced by other crops. At the end of the 1700s when trade opened between Eastern Europe and the orient, the dye was once again in demand and Porphyrophora polonica cultivated.

No longer grown commercially, loss of habitat to development, agriculture and environmental degredation have landed this once common insect on the Ukrainian Red Book of endangered species. Modern synthetic dyes have replaced the tedious process of cultivating and harvesting plants and picking the female scale insects from the roots.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is a retired Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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1 Response to Polish Cochineal

  1. Pingback: June in Poland – from strawberries to Rembrandt – Polish Tutor

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