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Planters might hold ash borer

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Kayla Bunge
February 2, 2008
— Are you the owner of a rustic, wooden planter box, purchased at Lowe’s home improvement store sometime last summer or fall?

Your planter could be harboring the emerald ash borer, the beetle responsible for killing more than 20 million ash trees in the Midwest since June 2002.


While the planters were pulled off store shelves Jan. 10, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is trying to track down those planters that already had been purchased.


The planter boxes are labeled “Nature’s Own Planters” and manufactured in Indiana by Lawson Products. The boxes are 18 to 24 inches long and 8 inches wide. They are made from “slab wood,” some of which might be ash, with the bark attached.


The wood used to make the planters came from trees in a non-infested county in Indiana, 50 miles from the nearest emerald ash borer infestation.


The risk of introducing the emerald ash borer into Wisconsin is low, said Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection spokesman Mick Skwarok, but given the threat the emerald ash borer poses, “it’s better to err on the side of caution.”


Lowe’s received an alert from the United State Department of Agriculture on Jan. 9. Sales of the planters were halted the next day, and the boxes were quarantined according to USDA guidelines, Lowe’s spokeswoman Maureen Rich said.


The state also received the USDA alert. In recent weeks, federal and state officials have inspected the 10 Lowe’s locations in Wisconsin, including the Delavan store, 2015 E. Geneva St. The manager of the Lowe’s store in Delavan declined to comment.


Skwarok said a state regulatory agent made an unofficial visit to the Delavan store within days of the alert being issued. No suspect planters were in the store at that time, he said. A follow-up visit is planned in the next few days.


The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection sent out an alert to consumers Jan. 24. Since then, the department has received few calls to its toll-free Wisconsin emerald ash borer hotline.


To date, the emerald ash borer has not been found in Wisconsin.


What to look for/where to call

What to look for: Rustic, wooden planter boxes labeled “Nature’s Own Planters.” The boxes are 18 to 24 inches long and 8 inches wide. They are made from “slab wood” with the bark attached.


If found: Call the toll-free Wisconsin emerald ash borer hotline at 1-800-462-2803.


Emerald ash borer info

What it is: The emerald ash borer is an exotic beetle that feeds on ash trees.


How it got here: The beetle likely arrived in the United States on solid wood packing material carried in cargo ships or airplanes originating in its native Asia.


Where it is: The beetle was discovered in southeastern Michigan in June 2002. Since then it has been found in Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.


What it has done: The beetle has killed more than 20 million ash trees in infected areas.


What it has caused: Infected areas have been quarantined to prevent potentially infested ash trees, logs or firewood from moving to non-infected areas.



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