People concerned about 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 UK's most "invasive" plant.

According to the Environment Agency, the potentially dangerous plant, which grows rampantly along railways, waterways, in parks and gardens is “indisputably the UK’s most aggressive, destructive and invasive plant”.

But now, for the first time in the UK, a pair of one-year-old Fox Red Labrador Retrievers have been specially trained to detect Japanese knotweed rhizome, even in small quantities hidden beneath the ground.

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

Trained for Japanese knotweed specialists Environet UK by RFA Security, Mick and Mack are said to be an "invaluable addition" to the surveying team.

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

Nic Seal, Founder and Managing Director of Environet said, “Japanese knotweed is a growing problem for homeowners in the UK and misrepresentation cases are on the rise, where sellers have answered dishonestly about whether their property is affected or they have deliberately concealed the plant.

"It’s not uncommon for knotweed to be cut back prior to a survey and I’ve even seen cases where the seller has placed a membrane horizontally in the ground over a knotweed infestation and laid a lawn or pathway over the top.

“An Environet dog detection survey is the only way to say with high certainty that a property or site is clear of knotweed, offering peace of mind to buyers that there will be no nasty surprises further down the line.”

Jason Collins, Operations Manager at RFA Security, added: “Highly trained detection dogs have a long history of working with the police and security services to find drugs and weapons, but increasingly they’re also taking on exciting new roles such as in the health and environmental sectors.

"Now, for the first time in the UK, dogs will be on the front line in the battle against Japanese knotweed, helping protect homeowners as well as our fragile native ecosystems.”