SOUTH PORTLAND — The Maine Forest Service is readying to release parasitic flies to help control the pesky winter moth population.

Entomologists with the state buried flies as cocoons in a cage in South Portland last fall, and adults are now emerging. The state says the adult flies will be released into the forest Wednesday as part of an effort to curb the spread of moths.

The flies are attracted to the oak leaves that are damaged by the winter moths. The flies are expected to lay eggs on the leaves, where they will be eaten by moth caterpillars. The fly eggs will then hatch in the gut of winter moth caterpillars and parasitize them.

The moths have defoliated tens of thousands of acres in Massachusetts, and they are also present in Maine.

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