The cochineal insect, Pseudococcus cacti, is native to Mexico and tropical America, where it feeds on certain species of cactus. These insects were thence imported into the Canary Islands, where they are raised in large numbers, as well as in the West Indies and other countries. They are sources of great profit to the Mexicans, who, so far as known, have always been acquainted with their quality of imparting a red color to confectionery and pastry, for which purpose (and as the source of carmine) they are still chiefly employed. In domestic medicine they have been commended in whooping cough and neuralgic affections, but have never been seriously considered by the medical profession.
The History of the Vegetable Drugs of the U.S.P., 1911, was written by John Uri Lloyd.