OLD WOOD, start with the original luminous and bright deep red pigment with bluish tones Cochineal is the common name given to Coccus cacti, Dactylopius coccus, an insect that feeds on oily prickly pear plants. The dye carmine is obtained from the female insects. Spaniard began harvesting cochineal in Mexico in the 16th C., and some sources attribute its first use in varnish to the Franciscan monk of Pisa. A similar Crimson dye had been obtained from the kermes scale insect in the Old World, and there is evidence the kermes dyestuffs were traded in Armenia around 150 BC. Both insects produce carminic acid, which is also an anthraquinone united to a structure derived from glucose (glucosidal hydroxyanthrapurin). It was first synthesized in a laboratory in 1991.