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Mating chirps, fighting sperm, hero ants - it's sex and society in the insect world

29 September 2011 Last updated at 08:25 BST

They're all around us but how many people know just how the societies of insects spend their days?

Most of the time insects are concerned with eating and mating - how they go about these tasks is more complex than some might assume.

Fireflies, for example, light up the sky looking for a mate, but some females will use deception to lure a meal instead.

In many insects sperm from different males must fight it out in the reproductive system of a single female.

There's also more than meets the eye in the swarms of ants you might see at a picnic - when trouble arises ants make sure to take care of their own.

Marlene Zuk, author of "Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love, and Language from the Insect World", explains how it all works.

Photos/Video: Alexander Wild, Stefan Lupold and Scott Pitnick, Think Stock, Elise Nowbahari, et al., Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images, Guang Niu/Getty Images

Produced by the BBC's David Botti