Biggest ever nest of Asian hornets found on ground survive 28 HOURS in a freezer

The largest nest of Asian hornets ever found on the ground in the UK have launched a fresh attack after surviving more than a whole day on ice.

The massive haul containing more than 1,600 Asian hornets were hunted with the majority hoovered up, thrown in a plastic bag and frozen alive.

But after more than a day trying to kill them in sub zero temperatures for 28 hours so that they could be dissected, some still emerged to attack – and were quickly thrown straight back in the freezer.

The one metre wide nest, which weighted more than 8kg, was discovered by a dog walker in a field near a Waitrose in Valle des Vaux on Jersey on Saturday.

The discovery added to a record number of nests that have already been found on the Channel Islands – the bug’s UK HQ – this year.

The battle in both Jersey and Guernsey is seen as vital to stop the spread of the insects that could decimate the UK’s native bee population.

And in the largest ground-based nest ever discovered there, more than 1,300 hornets were removed over the weekend using a specially designed vacuum, while a further 235 from the monster nest were caught in nearby traps.

The nest was then transferred to a freezer and stayed in storage for 28 hours before its dissection.

But hornet hunter John de Carteret said they were stunned to discover the freezing process failed to wipe out such a large number of them.

He said: “We intended to dissect the nest, which appears to contain 8/9 combs, but as we were removing it from the bag in which it had been in a freezer for 28 hours, we were met by a number of live Asian hornets…so it went back in the freezer.

“Normally they just go in overnight. We peeled the bag back, took a look and thought “hang on, that’s a live hornet coming out.”

Mr de Carteret said the two traps left behind after the nest removal were found to contain 235 of the hornets and he managed to vacuum up 1388 in his in-line filter.

He added: “These were both those Asian hornets on the outside of the nest, and those that emerged to defend their nest they numbered.

“Added to those in the trap, this makes a total of 1,623 all ready to defend their nest.

“We were able to examine a representative sample of the 1,623 in which we found a number of male Asian Hornets – the precursor to new Queens emerging.

“The clock is most definitely ticking.”

Record numbers of Asian-hornet nests have already been found in Jersey this year with the number currently at 132.

The previous record was 83 nests located by the Jersey Asian Hornet Group in 2019, followed by 38 and 63 in the two subsequent years.

Mr de Carteret added: “Asian Hornet nests of this size are often found at the tops of tall trees at this time of the season as they approach their zenith and produce, firstly males and then Queens, who might go on to create more nests next year.

“This is certainly the biggest ground level nest found in Jersey, and because it was low down in a bramble bank, where people would go picking blackberries, the consequences of such could have been serious.

“The fact that a keen eyed dog walker was able to spot the Asian Hornets’ activity, whilst walking his dog shows how close to passers by the nest was.

“This is what volunteers do, but right now we need this commitment to be supported and matched by Government, or we can all expect to be seeing and coming into contact with a whole lot more Asian Hornets in Jersey.”

The species began to spread through Europe in 2004 after arriving in the south of France inside a freight ship.

They were was spotted in the British Isles on the Channel Island of Jersey in late 2016.

But after years of establishing themselves on Jersey and Guernsey, the battleground shifted last year to Southern England.

This led to calls for a “people’s army” to help fight off an impending invasion of killer hornets onto mainland Britain.

The hornets are able to kill with one sting among people who have an allergy, while they also pose a threat to the environment and native species.

One hornet can also eat 50 bees in a day.