The Best of #WildNYC

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More than 400 people — including Mayor Bill de Blasio — submitted photos, video and audio of some of the city's wildest neighbors over the past four weeks. Our team of urban naturalists takes us through their favorites.

From botanist Marielle Anzelone, the founder of NYC Wildflower Week:

"A cherry millipede found in Staten Island woodlands. These native arthropods eat dead plant material."

"Juvenile oyster toadfish (top) and giant moon jellyfish (bottom) from the Rockaways in Queens is a good reminder that New York City consists mostly of islands, and that its shores and waters are also brimming with life."

 "Male scarlet tanagers were seen in at least two parks in Staten Island and also Green-Wood Cemetery and Prospect Park in Brooklyn. The more fragmented their forest habitat, the more susceptible to parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds. Cowbirds get rid of a tanager egg and replace it with one of their own. The tanagers then raise the cowbird along with the rest of their brood."

 "This may be the most liked and RT’ed – a PLANT! Common milkweed is a critical food for monarch butterfly caterpillars and it's one tough cookie."

 "This is a juvenile red-spotted newt. This species is uncommon in New York – now only found on Staten Island. This juvenile – or 'eft'– phase may last up to eight years. The efts then travel to ponds, transform into the green adult phase, and begin their reproductive lives. Adults are primarily aquatic, but can travel over land to colonize other ponds."

"Golden alexanders, a very rare wildflower in New York City, making a surprise appearance in the Bronx. It’s a food plant for the caterpillars of swallowtail butterflies and its flowers attract bees, wasps, flies and beetles."

 From Backyard and Beyond blogger and author Matthew Wills:

"The black and white warbler, one of the many species of warblers you can see in New York City during spring and fall migration."

"One of our smallest shorebirds, piping plovers are endangered because they nest on the same beaches we like. Please respect fenced areas during breeding season."

"Northern mockingbirds are year-around residents of New York City. They mimic other birds – and car alarms!"

 "Kestrels are small falcons that nest all over the city, but are so small, about the size of a blue jay, they often go unnoticed. They will eat you if you're small enough."

 From Chris Kreussling, author of Flatbush Gardener blog:

"This glass eel – the juvenile stage of ocean-going eels – is a sign of the interconnectedness, and improving conditions, of our city's waterways."

'Speaking of improved water quality, as someone who's lived here for over 35 years, it's amazing that humpback whales are now feeding, and breaching, within sight of the city."

 "A tiger swallowtail butterfly on a flowering dogwood. Butterflies and other insects have different floral hosts (the plants whose flowers they visit for nectar and pollen) and larval hosts (the plants on which they lay their eggs, and on which their caterpillars feed)."

The complete gallery of approved submissions to the #WildNYC project is here