PEOPLE concerned about the threat of Japanese knotweed can now call on man’s best friend to find out whether their property, or one they wish to buy, is affected by the country’s most invasive plant.

Japanese Knotweed has a vigorous grow, growing four inches a day in summer, and its roots or rhizomes spread far underground causing structural damage to buildings.

In the UK it is believed if the plant which can be three foot tall is found growing within 23 feet of a property it poses a risk so mortgages are often refused unless there is a plan in place to eradicate it.

But even if the seller carries out the expensive work, the stigma associated with the plant means that property values can be a tenth less, even after action is taken to control it.

Now, for the first time, a pair of one-year-old fox red labrador retrievers have been specially trained for Environet UK to detect Japanese knotweed rhizome, even in small quantities hidden beneath the ground.

Mick and Mack, are sniffing out knotweed for home owners and buyers, thanks to the 300 million or so receptors in their noses and a proportion of brain area dedicated to smell, which is 40 times larger than a human’s.

They can cover a garden in a matter of minutes and will indicate by ‘freezing’, or staying completely still, when Japanese knotweed is detected.

Dog detection is the most precise method available to determine whether knotweed is present and can be carried out at any time of year.

An interactive map from Environet UK, a specialist in removing the plant, has tracked all reported cases of the plant throughout the Tynedale area. The map can be accessed here.