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Chinese wax is a white to yellowish-white, gelatinous, crystalline water-insoluble substance obtained from the wax secreted by certain insects.
It resembles spermaceti but is harder, more friable, and with a higher melting point. It is deposited on the branches of certain trees by the scale insect Ceroplastes ceriferus, common in China and India, or a related scale insect, Ericerus pela, of China and Japan. The insects and their secretions are harvested and boiled with water to extract the raw wax. The insect bodies, which settle to the bottom, are used as food for swine.
According to an article in a November, 1932 magazine article in Nature Magazine by Herbert Beardsley"...the male larvae of a white insect, about the size of a mosquito, built a cocoon of pure, shining wax. The tree that produces the white wax insect grows in the Chien-Chang Valley, and there, about march, one may see, on the limbs and branches, round, brown forms, which contain innumerable white insects. If they are allowed to remain where they are, they will eventually drop off in a dead mass, for the food is not right for them; but if they are transported to other kinds of plants, the females will aly their eggs, the larvae will thrive and the male larvae will construct their shining palaces, which yield a profit to the wax-farmers. So, late in March, the insects are tied up in a leaf of the wood oil tree, then placed in gourd like receptacles which are packed into two large bamboo baskets. Runners or porters lift the baskets on their shoulders, and,traveling entirely at night-for to submit the insects to the midday heat would cause the pupal stage to end too soon-traverse the rocky paths and lofty ascents of the Cze-Chuan Mountains to arrive finally at the farming districts.
The baskets of insects are distributed to the farmers, who proceed at once to place the creatures upon the food plant, which is generally a species of flowering ash about five or six feet hight. They are tied to the branches in small bags made of leaves, and holes are punched in the bags with a blunt needle sot the adults may find their way out. When first emerging, the insects creep rapidly up to the leaves of the food plant, where they nestle for nearly two weeks. After this they begin to scatter and crawl along the branches. About the first of June, the females begin to lay their eggs, and the wax cocoons are formed in August in time completely coating every branch and stem. By the first of September the whole tree is literally covered with layers of pure white wax a quarter of an inch thick. The farmers then scrape the branches, and prepare the wax of the market."