Carminic acid
Carminic acid is a red glucosidal
A glucoside is a glycoside that is derived from glucose. Glucosides are common in plants, but rare in animals. Glucose is produced when a glucoside is hydrolysed by purely chemical means, or decomposed by fermentation or enzymes....

 hydroxyanthrapurin that occurs naturally in some scale insect
Scale insect
The scale insects are small insects of the order Hemiptera, generally classified as the superfamily Coccoidea. There are about 8,000 species of scale insects.-Ecology:...

s, such as the cochineal
The cochineal is a scale insect in the suborder Sternorrhyncha, from which the crimson-colour dye carmine is derived. A primarily sessile parasite native to tropical and subtropical South America and Mexico, this insect lives on cacti from the genus Opuntia, feeding on plant moisture and...

 and the Polish cochineal
Polish cochineal
Polish cochineal , also known as Polish carmine scales, is a scale insect formerly used to produce a crimson dye of the same name, colloquially known as "Saint John's blood". The larvae of P...

. The insects produce the acid as a deterrent to predators. Carminic acid is the colouring agent in carmine
Carmine , also called Crimson Lake, Cochineal, Natural Red #4, C.I. 75470, or E120, is a pigment of a bright-red color obtained from the aluminum salt of carminic acid, which is produced by some scale insects, such as the cochineal beetle and the Polish cochineal, and is used as a general term for...

. Synonyms are C.I.
Colour Index International
Colour Index International is a reference database jointly maintained by the Society of Dyers and Colourists and the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists. It was first printed in 1925 but is now published exclusively on the web...

 75470 and C.I. Natural Red 4.

The chemical structure of carminic acid consists of a core anthraquinone
Anthraquinone, also called anthracenedione or dioxoanthracene is an aromatic organic compound with formula . Several isomers are possible, each of which can be viewed as a quinone derivative...

 structure linked to a glucose
Glucose is a simple sugar and an important carbohydrate in biology. Cells use it as the primary source of energy and a metabolic intermediate...

sugar unit. Carminic acid was first synthesized by organic chemists in 1991.
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