This week marks six months since the last—and possibly last ever—message posted by the anonymous creator of QAnon, known only as Q.
In the vacuum that’s left, QAnon believers and influencers have been coming up with a range of increasingly unhinged conspiracy theories, and on Thursday they may have reached a new low: They claimed that a cicada that landed on President Joe Biden’s neck was a sign that “the storm” was finally happening.
Biden was captured on video Wednesday on the tarmac of Joint Base Andrews swatting away a cicada as he waited to board Air Force One to fly to the U.K. for his first overseas trip as president.
Within hours, one of the biggest QAnon influencer channels on Telegram claimed breathlessly that the cicada was a secret sign that big things were about to happen.
In a post entitled, “Joe Biden bitten by cicada—comms?”, one of the administrators of the “We the Media” Telegram channel attempted to link the incident to QAnon conspiracy theories.
“Just so happens that Cicada nymphs emerge after a 17-year childhood underground!!! What? CHILD? UNDERGROUND? 17?” the admin wrote. The “We the Media” Telegram channel has over 225,000 followers and is operated by a group of the biggest QAnon influencers.
The post is referring to the fact that Q is the 17th letter of the alphabet and the core QAnon belief that Democrats, including Biden, are pedophiles operating an underground sex-trafficking ring.
The post had been viewed over 23,000 times as of Thursday morning and has been shared by a number of other prominent QAnon accounts, including QAnon John, the organizer of the massive QAnon conference held in Dallas in May.
While some followers have pushed back against the theory—pointing out that cicadas don’t bite—others have embraced it fully, and even expanded on it.
One follower pointed out that the plane carrying the White House press corps to Europe had been delayed due to a swarm of cicadas, while others pointed out that with Biden leaving the country, it could be a sign that the long-promised return of former President Donald Trump and the mass arrests of Democrats could be about to happen.
Others went even further, claiming that the cicada was actually a drone. MelQ, a major QAnon influencer, flagged the delayed press plane and asked her 135,000 followers: “That Cicada cloud on the Radar was good for something. Or is it White Hats and their tech?”
The ludicrous conspiracies spun up about such an innocuous incident highlight once again that QAnon is struggling to remain relevant now that Trump is no longer president and Q has all but abandoned believers.
In the absence of any real evidence that the promised “storm” will ever happen, influencers jostling for power over the tens of millions of QAnon believers are trying whatever they can to keep their followers engaged.
In the wake of the Capitol riots, most QAnon supporters were kicked off mainstream platforms like Facebook and Twitter and forced onto fringe platforms like Telegram, where they mixed freely with more extreme groups like neo-Nazis and white supremacists. The result has been the emergence of several more-extreme QAnon influencers—like the antisemitic account known as GhostEzra.
For the most part, the “We the Media” channel, run by influencers who ‘ve spent years following QAnon, have attempted to dismiss the more extreme fringes of the movement. But as the post about cicadas shows, if they want to stay relevant, they, too, may need to embrace the most outrageous conspiracies.