First the Asian stink bug found its way to our shores to bedevil us in warm weather.
Now another species made it as close as Baltimore this week - but Customs agents stopped the invasion.
An entomologist at the Department of Agriculture is confirming that the insect found in a shipment of ceramic tiles from Italy was indeed the Italian stink bug, Sciocoris sideritidis. Homeland Security officials say this was the first-ever discovery of this species in the United States.
The tiles are being fumigated.
It's a great spring weekend in the Washington area, with so much to do! Hope you've completed your taxes (since Monday is the deadline) - so you can enjoy some of these events:
Our own Loo Katz will be there to help you enjoy the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade Saturday from 10 am to noon along Constitution Avenue - with entertainment from Elliott Yamin, Carmen Electra, Mya and Coco Jones. Then stop by the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival at 12th & Pennsylvainia NW from 10:30 am to 6 pm.
Also nearby, as part of the Festival, you can witness the Blessing of the Fleets Saturday at 1 pm at the U.S. Navy Memorial at 7th & Pennsylvania NW. Water from the seven seas and the Great Lakes will be poured into the fountains. After the ceremony, enjoy music and Navy bean soup all afternoon.
The Cherry Blossom Festival ends Sunday with events including a Tea Ceremony in the garden of the Evermay Estate in Georgetown. But camera workshops continue through the end of the month - and you can enjoy the Kimono Exhibit at the Mandarin Oriental through April 25.
Want more Asian cuisine? Thai restaurants in DC, Maryland and Virginia are celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year, through Wednesday with special deals.
Saturday is Thomas Jefferson's 270th birthday. Rangers will be at the Jefferson Memorial in colonial-era clothing from 1 to 3:30 pm - and you can sign a birthday card with a quill pen.
Presidential scholars will also want to check out the new JFK exhibits that opened Friday at the Newseum.
The DC Design House opens Saturday on Foxhall Road, with proceeds to benefit the Children's National Medical Center.
More than 20 arts groups in Prince William County are getting together to entertain you at a free festival Saturday from noon to 8 pm at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas.
And we're just days away from another parade downtown. The DC Emancipation Day Parade is Tuesday from 11 am to 2 pm along Pennsylvania Avenue - with fireworks at 8:30. Learn more about the celebrations and commemorations marking the 1862 law that freed slaves in the District of Columbia (eight months before the Emancipation Proclamation).
Now, about those taxes. Here's the form you use to tell the IRS you need a little more time.
The National Zoo has done all it can to try to ensure a baby giant panda this summer. Now it's up to Mei Xiang. Her brief window for breeding is over for the year.
How long until we know whether a cub is on the way? We don't know!
First of all, a giant panda Mom often has a false pregnancy - and her behavior and even her hormone levels are the same as if she's really expecting. And, then, an embryo can float around inside Mama for days, weeks...or even months. After that, from implantation to birth, it's only 40 or 50 days. But a cub is so tiny that it doesn't show up on ultrasound until the last few weeks before birth - and that's when Mei is not so cooperative about getting tested.
So we wait, in a routine that's become familiar across the DC area...but still frustrating!
Here's a link to the story about this weekend's efforts to get Mei pregnant.
Warmer temperatures should help coax the cherry blossoms out of their buds this weekend - and you should get a move on, too, because there's plenty to do!
The Cherry Blossom Kite Festival takes place from 10 am to 4 pm Saturday on the Washington Monument grounds. Enjoy demostrations, battles and kite ballet throughout the day, plus lessons and open flying starting at 2:30.
More than one thousand colorful kimono go on sale to benefit the Cherry Blossom Festival beginning Monday evening and all day Tuesday and Wednesday at the Mandarin Oriental.
There are plenty of Easter Egg rolls, hunts and decorating contests all over the area all weekend - culminating in the 135th annual White House Easter Egg Roll on Monday, April 1. This year's theme is "Sequestration and Furloughs." Sorry, April Fools! Actually, the theme is "Be Healthy, Be Active, Be You!" Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to join the First Family and guests ranging from the Cat in the Hat to Dora the Explorer.
If you can't make it to the South Lawn, you can still purchase the 2013 White House Keepsake Eggs. Buy the set and get an egg featuring the paw print of the First Dog, Bo. Proceeds benefit the National Park Foundation.
Or, celebrate with many presidents...in wax. Madame Tussauds at 1001 F Street NW is hiding 5,000 eggs throughout its Presidential Gallery. Kids can hunt for the colorful eggs early Saturday morning - and take advantage of photo-ops with live bunnies in the museum's version of the Oval Office.
Since 1891, Easter Monday at the National Zoo has been a tradition in the area's African American community. The zoo will have special family activities and live entertainment all day, along with visits from the Easter Panda.
It's also mating season for the National Zoo's real giant pandas. You might catch them getting frisky in the panda yards - but the Panda House will be closed to give them privacy if they want it. While you're there, visit the newly re-opened Elephant House.
Easter services will bring congregations together throughout the area. Perhaps none has a setting as spectacular as the 35th annual Easter sunrise service hosted by Capital Church of Vienna Sunday morning starting at 6:30 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Saturday is opening day for a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery: Mathew Brady's Photographs of Union Generals.
And Monday is opening day for Washington Nationals baseball.
What is your attitude toward Google Glass, the company's upcoming "wearable computer" that looks like a half-pair of reading glasses? Here are some links that might appeal to you, depending on your perspective.
If you can't wait to make a spectacle of yourself:
Google has begun choosing winners of its "#ifihadglass" contest, which asked regular folks to submit essays of 50 words or less to explain what they would do with the device, The first winners include a firefighter in Georgia who would make fire safety maps...a woman planning to visit Japan who wants her grandmother to see what she will be seeing...and a zookeeper who would show penguins being fed. The winners are not awarded their own Google Glass. No, they only win the opportunity to pay $1,500 to be among the first to have it. Here's how the story was reported in San Francisco.
If you believe the project is over-hyped:
A couple in Amsterdam designed a non-working mock-up of Google Glass (with the emphasis on mock, I think). So you can just look like you're an early adopter of cutting edge technology. And they've provided design files so that anyone with a 3D printer can make their own.
If you think there oughta be a law:
In the West Virginia House of Delegates, lawmaker Gary Howell has already introduced legislation to prohibit the use of Google Glass while driving. Privacy concerns have been expressed at the federal level, especially over the possibility that facial recognition could be part of the software. U.S. Senator Al Franken released a statement saying, "I don't think people are excited about a situation where a stranger can identify them, by name, by simply looking at them on the street." A Seattle bar was quick to ban the use of the eyewear, apparently because it's a spot that attracts people who don't want to be recognized. And the all-out, this-is-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it position has inspired a website called stopthecyborgs.org. This article in the Christian Science Monitor provides a nice overview of some of the issues being raised.
Well, what can I say...I'm pretty geeky.