The poultry red mite, Dermanyssus gallinae (De Geer) is a serious ectoparasitic pest of layer hens that can survive for long periods in the poultry house sub-structure without taking a blood meal from its host. The research undertaken in this study found that 'time since last blood meal' had a notable effect on how toxic a selection of plant essential oils were to D. gallinae under laboratory conditions. In general, the essential oils had a greater toxic effect on D. gallinae if mites had been starved of a blood meal for around 3 weeks, than if they had been more recently fed 3-13 days prior to tests. This result was consistent across the four essential oils used (thyme, palmarosa, caraway and juniper leaf). This suggests that plant essential oils may be of use in management schemes for D. gallinae, particularly if used to sanitise houses between flocks, when mites will have been starved.