Cactus pear and cochineals: good agricultural practice and control.
The genus Dactylopius, to which cochineals belong, comprises ten species, all distributed originally in North or South America. Two species native to Mexico, Dactylopius coccus (fine cochineal) and Dactylopius opuntiae (wild cochineal), are the ones with the highest economic importance, because of the commercial interest in fine cochineal as a natural pigment source, and the invasiveness of both species in commercial plantations of cactus pear. Since the dispersal of cactus pear throughout the arid areas of the world, the arrival of cochineal (fine or wild) has led to a number of agricultural disasters that are still occurring. A tool created to prevent and control these issues is good agricultural practice (GAP), which involves a compilation of principles to be applied on any farm during production and post-production processes. Here, we want to show the importance of GAP and highlight important measures to control cochineal in cactus pear plantations.