Lac, also known as shellac, is a natural resin produced by the lac insect (Kerria lacca) that is commonly used in a variety of industrial and household products.
The lac insect feeds on the sap of specific host plants, which are essential for the production of the resin. In this blog post, we will discuss the most common lac host plants and their importance in the lac industry.
One important host plant for the lac insect is the “Schleichera oleosa” (also known as the lac or kusum tree). This tree is native to tropical Asia and is commonly found in India, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
The tree is a large deciduous tree and can grow up to 30 meters tall. The resin is secreted by the insect on twigs, branches, and trunks of the tree.
Another important lac host plant is the “Ziziphus mauritiana” (also known as the Indian jujube or Chinese date). This is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree or shrub and is native to the Indian subcontinent and tropical Asia. It is possible for the tree to reach a height of 15 meters.
The resin is secreted by the insect on twigs, branches and trunks of the tree.
It is important to note that not all trees of these species produce lac, and the quality of lac produced also varies depending on the host plant species and the location where it is grown.
Understanding the importance of these host plants is crucial for the sustainability and success of the lac industry.
Interesting facts about Kerria lacca insect
The lac insect (Kerria lacca) is a species of scale insect that is native to Southeast Asia and India. These are some interesting facts about these insects:
- A resin-like material termed lac is secreted by lac insects, earning them widespread notoriety.
- Shellac, a product made from the resin, has numerous commercial and consumer applications. It can be used as a varnish, a color, or even a food coating.
- The sap of host trees like the kusum and ber trees provides sustenance for the lac bug, a hemipteran insect. Lac insects are unique in that the females spend their whole lives attached to the host tree’s bark, where they exude lac resin to defend themselves.
- Scraping the bark of the host tree yields the lac resin generated by the lac bug. Sticklac is the name for this method. Shellac begins as refined, processed sticklac.
- Shellac has a long history of usage in traditional Indian medicine in addition to its more modern industrial applications.
- As a result of its purported healing abilities, it is used to treat a wide range of illnesses, from digestive to skin problems.
- For centuries, Indian culture has relied on the lac bug. It was also employed as a varnish for wood and fabrics, and as a dye, according to ancient Ayurveda scriptures.
- The lac bug is now an invasive species in places of the world where it was not previously present, such as Africa and the Americas.
- The bug has wreaked havoc on local ecosystems and plant life in several locations.
- Countries like Thailand, China, and Indonesia all raise the lac bug in order to harvest its shellac. Despite this, India continues to be the world’s primary source of lac resin. Insects in the genus Laci have a fascinating life cycle.
- In the end, the female lays her eggs and dies after mating. After hatching, the tiny larvae move along the host tree’s bark in search of a good feeding location. After going through various stages of development known as “molts,” the larvae emerge as adults.