Evaluation of three varieties ofOpuntia ficus-indica (L.) Miller as hosts of the Cochineal insectDactylopius coccus costa (Homoptera: Dactylopiidae) in a semiarid area of northeastern Mexico
Three varieties of prickly pearOpuntia ficus- indica (Villanueva, Copena, and Jalpa varieties) were evaluated in their capacity to be host of the cochineal insect (Dactylopius coccus Costa) in two localities of northeastern Mexico. The experiment was carried out for two seasons, winter and summer, in 1998. Variables under evaluation were: fresh weight of grana, dry weight of grana, and number of insects. The Villanueva variety showed the highest production for the three variables and there were no differences between the other two varieties. Iturbide locality was superior to Linares for the three variables. Higher production (both dry and fresh weight of grana) was obtained during winter and there were no differences between seasons for number of insects. Figures obtained for the Villanueva variety are slightly higher than those reported in literature for the most productive cochineal areas in Mexico.