Home Science EverywhereScience at home Why the hype about eating insects? Google trend sleuthing to the rescue.

Why the hype about eating insects? Google trend sleuthing to the rescue.

by Eva Amsen

Suddenly I saw them everywhere: news articles, tweets, and even art exhibits about eating insects. I also noticed that the American North East was getting excited about the emergence of the Brood II cicadas, and I wondered if the two were related. I thought that the mass influx of insects would have inspired the sudden idea of eating them.

I entered both “cicada” and “eating insects” in Google Trends, to see if their search patterns overlapped.

I was expecting to see a recent increase in searches, but I hadn’t noticed that this is not so much a new phenomenon, but an annual occurrence. Every year in June, the number of people searching for the phrase “eating insects” hits a peak.

Cicadas showed a different pattern. They were such a popular search term that they didn’t fit in the same graph as “eating insects”, so here are the results for “cicada” on their own.

They also show an annual peak, probably in the season of annual cicada emergences, but it’s not in June. The main peaks are in August, with a second peak in May in some years.

If you look in a particular year within the US, the search pattern doesn’t match per location either. Here are the states that searched for “cicada” or “eating insects” in 2012:

If it’s not cicadas that people want to eat, which insect it? Is there an insect that emerges in June? Of course, June bugs or June beetles!

When I compared the search for “June beetle” with “eating insects” within the US, it overlayed almost perfectly.

And the regions of the US in which people searched for both phrases overlapped as well!

So all that hype about eating insects: is it just fueled by an annual June bug annoyance?


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