The Cordyceps species are fungi which are parasitic on insects in their immature stages living in the soil. We aren't aware of them doing this until the fungus produces its spore-bearing structure.

Cordyceps sinclarii

A fungus which is parasitic on cicada nymphs.

Cicada nymphs (the immature form of cicadas) live underground, feeding on the roots of trees and shrubs. This fungus will infect the nymphs, and kill them by feeding on the nymph's insides. When the conditions are right, usually over the summer if there is rain, the fungus will produce this white spore-bearing structure. The spores, being that white powder,are then spread around to infect more cicada nymphs.

If you dig down under one of these chances are you will find the messy remains of the poor cicada nymph.

Cordyceps robertsii

This fungus infects soil-dwelling caterpillars. When it has consumed the host caterpillar, it sends up a spore-bearing stalk, which will release more spores in the hope of finding another host. If you carefully dig down you will find attached to the end of the stalk a mummified caterpillar. These are known as the Vegetable Caterpillar.

Another fungus which is parasitic on insects is Beauveria bassiana
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