Ragweed season hits Montreal early

Plants are being spotted near train tracks and parks across the city.

Long and hot summer means allergies kicked in around July

Montreal used to commission people to pull out the plant. (CBC)

The long and hot summer means more people are sneezing, itching and coughing.

Ragweed season has arrived in Montreal a bit earlier than expected, according to Dr. Christine McCusker from the Montreal Children's Hospital.

"Usually the season starts probably about mid-August but patients started complaining at the start of July this year," McCusker said.

She said the plants are being spotted near train tracks and parks across the city, which means urban dwellers with the allergy could suffer from a sore throat, watery eyes or itchy nose.

There was a time when Montreal took more action against ragweed, but it was difficult to enforce.

According to the Saint-Laurent borough mayor Alan DeSousa, there was a bylaw in Montreal in the early 1990s that required property owners to remove all ragweed plants by Aug. 1.

"At that time, it was a very hard bylaw to apply, particularly in terms of the ability to have enough inspectors to cover every corner of the communty," DeSousa said.

Last year, the city of Hudson was offering bounties to get people to pull out the plant.

What is it? What can be done?

This is what ragweed looks like. If you let it seed, it can launch a million proteins (pollen) into the atmosphere. (iStock)

The Lung Association of Quebec said ragweed likes to grow on railroad tracks, sidewalk edges, construction sites and bare land.

The association says more than 17 per cent of the population experiences discomfort when exposed to ragweed pollen.

They recommend uprooting the plant before it blooms in June or July if possible. To prevent it from spreading, mow lawns evenly and fill any bare spots. 

The season usually lasts until first frost, which typically happens around October.