Automatically translated from Basque, translation may contain errors. More information here. Elhuyarren itzultzaile automatikoaren logoa

Barefoot walker

  • We have a very close image: floating on the water, as if we were running and jumping on the bed mattress. It is logical to think that the bodies of animals sink into the water when they try to walk through the surface of the water, but the oppressor does not sink… Something is out of place… We will clarify it later to learn more about their way of life.
Ipurtargia. Argazkia: Iñaki Mezquita Aranburu.
Zapatero (Gerris lacustris)

GROUP: Invertebrate/Insect/Hemipte.

SIZE: 2-3 cm approx.

WHERE DO YOU LIVE? In rivers and streams, also in pools.

WHAT DOES IT EAT? Invertebrates, mainly insects.

LEVEL OF PROTECTION: It is not protected at European level.

This curious insect is visible from mid-March until winter comes. It hides in herbs and plants close to the waters, occupying a section called hibernation. During this time, the functions of metabolism considerably reduce energy loss and animals survive thanks to the energy of food accumulated in previous months. In spring, after coming out of hibernation, it's breeding time. The metamorphosis of the shoemakers consists of three phases: the so-called “simple metamorphosis”, since they do not cover a fourth phase, called in the case of butterflies chrysalis phase. These three phases are eggs, nymphs and maturity. In just over a month and a half, the shoes reach maturity. The female lays her eggs in the aquatic vegetation.

Being an insect has a pair of antennas and six legs. But those six legs are not the same, let alone! And not the functions they perform. The front pair is very small compared to the others and uses them to capture prey. We also have almost insatiable food! The key to its ability to “float” in its central and rear legs. In the end, the shoemaker, although most other insects have tentacles, has some padded, hair-filled structures that do not pierce the surface of the water, that allow the animal to move without sinking. These hairs are called hydrophobes, because not only do they not mow but they generate around a kind of air balloon. The pair of central legs is longer and uses it to move. It is only thanks to the two legs! It uses the rear torque, shorter than the middle, but much longer than the previous one, as a motto, to change course. Thanks to this air bubble that gets through these four legs, they discover the position of the waves that the dams produce. It should be noted that shoemakers mainly hunt vulnerable prey, as well as bodies of dead insects. You can also see it often by attacking a big dam in the group. The eyes draw attention because they are very large depending on the size of the insect.

More than 1,700 species of the zapatero (Gerridae) family are known worldwide. In addition, there are those who live in sea waters, salt, almost two hundred!

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