Monday Mystery: History Trivia Night!

In a change of pace from our usual identification-based challenges, tonight’s mystery will involve a bit of historical trivia. How so?

Consider a landscape from the Rincon mountains east of Tucson, Arizona:

I will award 10 Myrmecos points to the first person who can tell me how the subject of this image relates to 18th century British military uniforms.

The cumulative points winner for the month of February will take home their choice of 1) any 8×10-sized print from my photo galleries, or 2) a guest post here on Myrmecos. Good luck!

Incidentally, here’s a Mystery of a different kind:

18 thoughts on “Monday Mystery: History Trivia Night!”

  1. I’d say it has to be the dye produced from the Cochineal bugs (Homoptera: Dactylopius sp.) on the cacti in the foreground! This expensive dye was needed to create the famous redcoats.

  2. Dactylopius coccus, or cochineal scale insects, can be found on the Opuntia cactus in the foreground. The red dye derived from the bodies of these crushed insect were historically used to color the “Red Coat” uniforms.

  3. Just curious… where did the 18th century British uniform-makers find this cactus/insect pair to harvest for their coat-coloring? Surely not out here in the southwest…

    1. Ultimately from Mexico. Cochineal dye production was already practiced in Prehispanic Mexico, and became a major export industry in colonial times. Southern states like Oaxaca in particular were the major centers of cochineal production. Spain jealously guarded its very profitable monopoly on bugs and dye, and the industry only crashed when chemical dyes were invented in the 19th Century. Small-scale production still goes on in Oaxaca, and if you ever happen to be there (and Oaxaca is worth a visit for so many reasons – been there many times) one can tour some of the cochineal farms and meet the traditional weavers who still use it.

  4. Pingback: Answer to the Monday Night Mystery – MYRMECOS - Insect Photography - Insect Pictures

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