Northern California is no stranger to an array of miserable and pesky pests year round, but easily the most irritating, and even potentially dangerous, times of the year for biting reptiles and stinging insects. While these  creatures can cause pain and even trips to the doctor’s  office, there is no reason to let their existence keep you from enjoying the great outdoors this season. With a little preparation and know-how, you can safely and easily live it up this summer.

One of the most common and irritating pests on the planet is the mosquito, but with Sacramento seeing record levels of West Nile-infected birds this summer, they’re nothing to swat at. At dawn and dusk, try to cover your skin with airy fabrics that keep mosquitoes off but don’t heat you up too much. Or, if it’s just to hot to cover up, make sure to apply a thin but consistent layer of mosquito repellent before heading outdoors.

Snakes are another somewhat uncommon but also dangerous pest in the Sacramento area. If you live near fields in the suburbs or take a day hike, be sure to keep an eye out for rattlesnakes, and call a pest control company if you see one. They are most active in the dawn and dusk and can often be found sunning themselves on a rock or quiet country road. Keep dogs on short leashes when hiking and always be aware of your surroundings.