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Reliable communications are essential for most applications in wireless sensor networks (WSNs). In traditional approaches, the per-hop and end-to-end (E2E) recovery schemes are widely used. These schemes, however, suffer from low E2E success rate and poor energy efficiency in large-scale real environments. Through empirical studies, in this paper we identify three major problems that hinder the efficient and reliable communications. To address these problems, we propose a novel in-middle recovery scheme and realize it by designing and implementing a proliferation routing. Proliferation routing integrates three core technologies, namely, capability-based path finder, a randomized dispersity, and reproduction. Proliferation routing offers great flexibilities for transmissions. It cannot only be applied with any Medium Access Control (MAC) protocols and routing metrics, but also obtains a desired service quality (i.e., transmission success rate, energy cost, etc.) by controlling the system parameters. To demonstrate the effectiveness of proliferation routing, we thoroughly analyze its performance. We also conduct performance evaluations through implementation experiments as well as simulations. In a specific experimental setup, proliferation routing can increase the E2E transmission success rate up to 80 percent compared with the well-known hop-based routing and flooding.