SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (AP) — Experts say the number of winter moths damaging trees in New England has fallen after years of growth.

Heather Faubert, a research assistant at the University of Rhode Island, tells The Westerly Sun "very few" acres were defoliated by the invasive insect last year. University of Massachusetts Amherst professor Joseph Elkinton says the population has hit a record low in Massachusetts.

Elkinton's lab has released a parasitic fly at numerous locations throughout southern New England in an effort to control the winter moth population, but researchers say the growth of natural predators might account for much of the species' decline.

Connecticut state entomologist Kirby Stafford says other pests continue to cause defoliation and widespread gypsy moth damage has eclipsed the effect of winter moths.


Information from: The Westerly Sun,