Cochineal; red dye prepared from the dried bodies of the females of the cochineal insects, Dactylopius coccus, which lives on the Nopal cactus, indigenous to Mexico and Peru.

 

In the early part of the sixteenth century when the Spanish conquered and colonised Mexico, they discovered in Oaxaca an abundance of Cochineal the highly prised dyestuff derived from the beetle that lives on the Nopal cactus and made a red dye more vivid and permanent than any other natural dye found elsewhere in the world.  At this time a kilo of Cochineal was worth more than a kilo of Gold.  After arriving in Oaxaca in 1521 the wealth created for the New Spanish inhabitants allowed them to create a cathedral larger than any in Spain at that time and to line it walls with Gold.