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This scientist decorates her face with exotic bugs. She hopes you will too.by Kay Angrum
Science#WildlifeWeek

WATCH |  Scientist Nancy Miorelli puts bugs on her face to show the greater diversity of insects in the wild.

At first sight, these photos might look like an episode out of "Fear Factor" or another daring reality TV show. But for entomologist Nancy Miorelli, taking selfies with exotic insects is something she does for fun.

What started out as a "facebug-off challenge" among Miorelli and her colleagues, turned into an everyday activity equipped with its own trendy hashtag. "I guess I never got tired of it and I just kept doing it," Miorelli said. She shares her #Facebug selfies for others to learn about the bugs.

"I realized that the pictures with bugs on my face were the ones that got shared and liked the most and then I realized that I can attach, like little bits of biology to those FaceBug pictures and then that information gets out and people see new insects."

They see that not all insects are mosquitos and cockroaches.

Nancy Miorelli

Miorelli said her goal is to expose others to the myriad of insects of our world. "They see that not all insects are mosquitos and cockroaches and they see that some of them are beautiful and hopefully they learn a little bit about the bugs of the wild," she said.

Her #Facebug photos recently gained a lot of attraction on social media after she hosted an info series on the @realscientists Twitter page. Her photos have gotten hundreds of likes and shares.

"I've had some really great responses," she said. "I think it just encourages people to get out and see what’s around them."

Miorelli encourages others to join her in doing the #FaceBug challenge with bugs that are safe.

Miorelli will often do #FaceBug challenges to raise funds for disaster reliefs.

When Nancy Miorelli isn't taking photos with creepy crawlers, she's giving bug tours to visitors at the Maquipucuna Reserve and Ecolodge in Quito, Ecuador, where she's lived for the past year and a half. She also sells handmade jewelry at the reserve and on her Etsy website here.

The reserve is currently home to nearly 400,000 insect species. The surrounding Amazon has about 2.5 million insect species.

Miorelli told Circa she's put about 50 or so insects on her face over the years.

Changing the face of entomology

Miorelli said in addition to raising awareness about the diversity of insects, she also hopes her #FaceBug challenge to other scientists will show the greater diversity of entomology.

"I know people all over the world who study insects. Of like every color, of every gender identity. You know? It’s just not the face that it has right now. So, I wanted to do something to kind of change that."

Users have been tweeting her photos of themselves doing the #facebug challenge.

Some have been practicing for years.