This article was inspired by Serious Fun with Google Trends by Simon Leather.
Google Trends is a Google website that lets you see trends in the search terms over time. When people search for “cicada” it usually means cicadas have emerged in their area at the time they search.
The following graph shows when people searched for “cicada” over the past 10 years in the United States. The largest spike, in May of 2004, coincided with the emergence of Brood X.
You might think that periodical cicada emergences cause the largest spikes, but not always — and not just because periodical cicadas don’t emerge every year.
2004: Cicada searches spiked May 16-22, which was Brood X – Magicicadas.
2005: Jul 31-Aug 6 spike which was for Neotibicen Cicadas. No periodical cicadas.
2006: Aug 13-19, Neotibicen Cicadas. No periodical cicadas.
2007: May 20-26, Brood XIII – Magicicadas.
2008: Brood XIV Magicicadas emerged (spike Jun 8-14), but the largest spike was Jul 29-Aug 2, Neotibicen Cicadas.
2009: Aug 16-22, Neotibicen Cicadas.
2010: Aug 8-14, Neotibicen Cicadas.
2011: May 29-Jun 4, Brood XIX – Magicicadas.
2012: Jul 29-Aug 4, Neotibicen Cicadas.
2013: May 5-11, Brood II – Magicicadas.
2014: Brood XXII – Magicicadas had a relatively small spike May 25-31, compared with Aug 24-30 for Neotibicen Cicadas (late season due to cool weather). There was also a teeny bit of a spike around January of 2014 due to the “cicada 3301” meme/game.
2015: Brood XXIII & IV Magicicadas emerged (spike around Jun 7-13), but the largest spike was around Aug 9-15 for Neotibicen Cicadas.
Which cities had the most cicada searches over the past 10 years? Cincinnati, Omaha, Nashville, Baltimore, Washington, Chicago, Alexandria, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Charlotte. Time for me to move to Cincinnati!
How about Australia? Cicada searches in Australia spike in December. The largest spike was in December of 2013, which was indeed a big year for cicada emergences in Australia.
The variation year after year suggests that there is a degree of periodicity to Australian cicadas. There is always a spike around December, but some years see bigger spikes than others. Just speculation (partially because the 2004 & 2005 data seems absent) but perhaps there is a 9 or 11 year proto-periocity happening.
In terms of cities, Sydney has had the most cicada searches:
How about Japan?! August is the best month for cicadas (セミ) in Japan.
Yokohama, Chiba & Saitama generates the most cicada searches: