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We squish ’em, smash ’em, fear ’em, scare ’em, spray ’em, sweep ’em, flick ’em and generally misunderstand them.

But perhaps it’s time we rethink our relationship to our tiny, multi-legged invertebrate friends who have been around since long before we humans got here — and will be here long after we’re gone. Insects might be the most misunderstood inhabitants of our natural world, but there is much they can teach us, and there’s plenty of research is going on to do just that.

Don’t smash that bug! What’s creepy-crawly to you and me is a treasure trove of information for scientists. From bomb-sniffing locusts to the social life of bees, scientists are gaining new insights into insects, arachnids and honeybees — including how our tiniest neighbors are solving some of the problems of our time (theirs, too).

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