AUGUSTA — Conservation officials are releasing tiny, predator lady beetles at three Maine state parks to stem the spread of an invasive insect.

The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s entomology staff will release the beetles Thursday at Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in Freeport and Ferry Beach State Park in Saco. More beetles will be released next Thursday at Vaughan Woods State Park in South Berwick and at Ferry Beach State Park.

In all, a total of 5,700 beetles will be released.

Officials say the beetles will reduce the numbers of hemlock wooly adelgids, an invasive species that defoliate hemlock trees and can kill them.

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