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How to prevent and tackle pests in your thatched roof

At some point, every homeowner will probably encounter an unwelcome guest in their home, whether it be a mouse, rat or insect. Thatched homeowners are no different, but because of the way thatched roofs are built, the damage pests can do once they’ve invaded your home can be much more significant.

What pests can you find in thatched roofs?

The organic nature of thatched roofs means that it can be an ideal home for a number of birds, bugs and beasts if careful preventative measures aren’t put in place. 


Birds including sparrows, magpies, jays and jackdaws can all become pests to your thatched roof. If not securely netted, these birds may pull out a thatched roof’s straw in order to create or line their nests. Birds such as sparrows can also exploit gaps in the wire to create holes and build their nests within the thatch itself. 

Other birds may build their nests in your chimney, which could lead to a chimney fire if it is not regularly swept out during nesting season.


Rats, mice and squirrels are other common thatch pests that can cause significant damage. Not only can they chew your thatching material, but they can also gnaw through cables and fixings. They are most likely to start moving into your thatch in the winter months as the thatching provides a warm and dry environment for them. If your thatching material still contains grain, rodents will also have a tasty food source to see them through the colder months. 


Thatching provides a welcome environment for mites, which can then tempt spiders and other more damaging creatures into your thatch. Keeping down their numbers will therefore help you to keep your thatch in good repair.

Wasps, hornets and bees

If there are any small cavities in your thatch, you may find that it becomes a snug home for solitary bees. However, these are unlikely to bother you or cause damage, so you may be happy to leave them be.

Wasps and hornets, on the other hand, are definitely pests because they can build their nests within your thatched roof. 


Thatching provides a warm and dark environment for spiders to hide in. They don’t actually damage your thatched roof, but if you have a fear of spiders you may want to find ways of reducing their food sources to deter them. 

How can you prevent your thatched roof becoming a home to pests?

Prevention is better than cure, and if you look after your thatched roof it is very unlikely that you will have a major issue with pests.

Installing secure and good-quality netting over your thatched roof is a helpful step if you want to deter birds and rodents from stealing thatch or burrowing in. To ensure your netting remains intact, it is best to do a regular check of your thatching (say, once a week) to see if you can spot any holes. This can be done by walking round your property or going up a ladder (if it is safe to do so) to have a closer look. However, do not step onto your thatching otherwise you may damage it.

While carrying out your inspection, you should also look for any debris that has fallen onto your roof. Leaves and branches can create nice little habitats for insects and bugs such as mites, which may then attract other wildlife.

When having your thatching repaired or replaced, it may be a good idea to place bait in your roof space to lure any potential pests away. 

You should also try not to spill any feed near your home, such as chicken feed or bird seed. This will attract pests, which may then travel the short distance to the warmth and security of your thatched roof.

What should you do if you have a pest problem?

First of all, it’s best not to repair any damage caused until the pest has been removed. 

Your next move will then depend on which pest is causing you trouble. 

For rodents such as mice and rats, you can try putting down bait, traps or poison in your loft space. You may also like to try installing a bait box outside your home to try and tempt the pests away from your thatch. A sonic deterrent may be helpful too, although this can scare other animals.

For birds, you could try installing dummy birds of prey on the roof. However, you will need to move these fairly often as birds such as jays and crows are extremely intelligent and will soon learn that this dummy poses no threat to them. Installations that spin or have shiny attachments may be worth a try too. 

It may be tempting to try to shoot birds that land on your roof. However, changes to legislation in 2019 made it illegal to shoot ‘pest’ species such as crows unless you have an individual licence. 

If you cannot control the pests yourself, or you are faced with pests such as wasps or hornets, it is best to consult a professional pest controller. They can give you specific advice to help you remove the pests safely and legally, as well as identify other prevention methods. Qualified pest controllers can be found on the British Pest Control Association’s (BPCA) website

Make sure your thatched home is protected

If you want to ensure your thatched home has the right insurance protection in place, you can talk to our experienced brokers by calling 01603 788050 or emailing

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