Due to the many questions we receive about the insect used to produce Cochineal/Carmine,
we have decided to put together a brief summary on the subject. 
We hope that this will answer most of your questions.

Cochineal/Carmine is a red dye made from the dried bodies of females of a scale insect, order Homoptera, family Coccoidea (Dactylopius coccus). They have sucking mouthparts that arise from the extreme rear lower part of the head. The females commonly lose their legs and antennae at the first molt, becoming stationary and secreting scale, a waxy protective covering. Males become nonfeeding adults. The coloring agent in cochineal is carminic acid. The insects are brushed from the cacti into bags and then killed by agitation or by heat from hot water, steam, sunlight, or an oven. They are then crushed into powder and processed into a red dye.

It has been suggested that these insects are in the beetle family, 
but from the research we have done we disagree.

The beetle belongs to the order Coleoptera, the largest order in the animal kingdom with over 250,000 species. The order Coleoptera has three suborders: Archostemata, Adephaga, and Polyphaga
beetles have chewing mouthparts. Beetles have wings, some fly and some do not. They have
three pairs of strong legs: depending upon the species, their legs are used for crawling, running, swimming, or digging.

The word "beetle" is found only once in the King James version of the Bible (Lev. 11:22): in the Revised Editions the word "cricket" is used. The word used in the Hebrew text is "chargol" (Strong's #2728),
it means leaping insect.

Cricket (n): any of a family of leaping insects related to the grasshoppers and noted for the chirping noises of the male.
They belong to the order Orthoptera

The following is from the Easton's Bible Dictionary { the Text: Heb.hargol, meaning "leaper"}. Mention of it is made only in Lev. 11:22, where it is obvious the word cannot mean properly the beetle. It denotes some winged creeper with at least four feet, "which has legs above its feet, to leap withal." The description plainly points to the locust (q.v.).


Leviticus 11

21. Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth; 22. Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind. 23. But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you.

After reading all of this information the next question we asked was "Do Beetles Leap Upon The Earth"?
The answer according to the information we have available is NO! Therefore that would make the beetle an Unclean insect that may not be eaten. If anyone has information to the contrary please let us know.

The grasshopper, cricket, and locust belong to the order Orthoptera. They have hind legs specialized for jumping, chewing mouthparts and wings. These insects are Clean and may be eaten.

In Conclusion

Cochineal/Carmine is an UNCLEAN food additive. Products containing this substance are designated Unclean
and should not be eaten.

Peace to All the Servants of the Most High in Jesus' name.

The Israel of God Research Committee....



Grolier's Multimedia Encyclopedia, 1999

The New Strong's Guide To Bible Words, 1996
New Standard Encyclopedia, Volume 2
Bible Library 4.0
American Concise Encyclopedia of  Insects CD,  2000