SWAT has started this year’s programme of spot-spraying of glyphosate (herbicide) to help control Giant Hogweed plants in and around Stewarton, especially the banks of the Clerkland Burn and from where the Burn joins the Annick Water. Walkers may have noticed SWAT spraying notices and sprayers working in the Lainshaw Woods.
Giant Hogweed is an extremely toxic plant whose sap can cause skin burns and blisters. Effects can be very long-lasting. Blindness can also result if the sap gets into eyes.
The SWAT programme of spot-spraying aims to kill off the plants before they reach the flowering stage. After flowering each untreated plant may release between 50,000 to 80,000 viable seeds. This is one of the reasons why the plant can spread so quickly.
If left uncontrolled, plants can grow up to 4 metres tall.