Over the billions of years of it's existence, all creatures on Earth have adapted and evolved in order to survive. While some are particularly fast, others are poisonous, and others have learned to survive in much more clever fashion. Fungi of the genus Cordyceps survive as parasites; feeding off the living bodies of insects, then using the carcass as a launching point for their spores. While there are hundreds of species of fungi within the Cordyceps genus, each specializing in a particular species of insect, the Cordyceps unilateralis displays some of the more remarkable features of the genus. Spores of the fungus first find themselves attached to the exoskeleton of a carpenter ant, where they germinate, or begin to grow. From there they spread into the ant's spiracles, holes along the ant's sides which allow it to breathe. Once inside, the fungus consumes most of the ant's soft tissue but leaves the vital organs intact. When the fungi has grown enough to move on to the next stage of development, it begins invading the brain of the ant. Somehow this causes the ant to be contracted with what is known as summit disease, causing it to climb as high as it can before locking it's mandibles onto a leaf stem. This is to maximize the spread of the fungus' spore. Locked in place, the ant is killed as the fungus devours the ant's brain and then erupts into a stalk protruding from the ant's head. Once fully grown, the tip of this stalk then releases more spores in the hopes of spreading itself to more carpenter ants. The Cordyceps unilateralis' life cycle lasts only four to ten days, but because of the cutthroat method of survival, can easily decimate the populations of unsuspecting insects. Scientists today are attempting to use these entomopathogenic fungi in new ways, including as a replacement for pesticides.