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So How Do You Fulfill Live Ants Anyway?

Kelly Direct has fulfilled countless products over the past 25 years…..apparel, basketballs, bicycles, CDs, collectibles, gift certificates, frozen shrimp, weight loss supplements, yoga wear and even severed feet (for a horror film release).

Some of these products have shipping restrictions.  Some do not.  It is our job to inform you of merchandise susceptible to guidelines or restrictions which may affect ship time, ship cost or the ability to ship the products at all.

“Hazardous” materials such as aerosols, cigarette lighters, perfumes and some types of cosmetics cannot be shipped.  Federal Express won’t allow postage stamps. UPS won’t allow batteries.

Alcohol is a whole other story.

Furthermore, depending on the type of shipment, we may be required to comply with the Department of Transportation, the Food & Drug Administration, International Air Transportation Association and other regulatory agencies.

Given these restrictions, it got us thinking:  What kind of restrictions do they place on shipping live ants, ladybugs and creatures?

It turns out that ants are OK (spiders are not).  Turtles are OK (snakes are not).

You can ship ants to 50 states (but tadpoles to only 48 states).

The foremost leader in fulfilling live creatures is Uncle Milton’s Industries.  The Southern California based firm introduced the flagship Ant Farm® habitat to children and families in 1956.  Uncle Milton now processes online orders directly to consumers and distributes products through a broad range of retail channels including mass merchant, specialty toy, online, hobby, gift, and department stores nationwide.

Shipping live ants presents unique fulfillment challenges to Uncle Milton:


  • Data capture:  After the product is purchased, consumers mail in an enclosed (non-replicable) certificate.   The PO box is swept and envelopes are opened.  Consumer address data is then input to the order entry system to create ship labels (Uncle Milton uses USPS).


  • Product safety.  Ants are packaged into customized ventilated containers for safe travel.  Each ant must be at least 1/4 inch in size or they could escape from the habitat.


  • Weather Conditions/Ship Delays.  Ants can only be shipped if the temperature is greater than 32 degrees Fahrenheit and less than 85 degrees Fahrenheit.  If the temperature range does not fit in this category, Uncle Milton emails a delay notification to the client.


  • Return policy and guarantee.  Uncle Milton guarantees the live arrival of the ants.  If the creature order arrives in ”an unsatisfactory condition”, the consumer fills out an on-line form to request a one-time replacement.  One-time replacements will only be honored if the company is contacted within 48-72 hours of the consumer’s receipt of the ants.  It is also “not required that the dead creatures be returned.”


While this is certainly a unique and entertaining fulfillment scenario, it underscores the importance of identifying any restrictions that may impact the packaging and shipment of merchandise to your end-users.  Call Kelly Direct today for expert shipping guidance. 


Sure.  There are plenty of times when a fulfillment program requires an internal IT department, voice-to-pick systems, airport style security and 200 staffmembers.

But sometimes you only need 5 guys in a warehouse.

This is where Kelly Direct comes in.  We manage your assembly or fulfillment program to eliminate unnecessary costs and overhead.  With over 6 million square feet of space in Southern California, we know the warehouses, we know their specialties, we know system requirements and we know what is reasonable in terms of pricing and turn time.

To determine the right fit for your program, we will consider:

  • Where product manufactured
  • Where product distributed
  • To whom product is distributed (consumers or retailers)
  • System integration requirements
  • Staffing requirements
  • Reporting and tracking requirements
  • Order volume
  • SKU variety
  • Storage needs

Also, since assembly and fulfillment is generally only 30% of overall program cost, we  put extreme focus on shipping rates, offering you least cost routing methods and exceedingly low, pre-negotiated ship rates based upon our large distribution volume.

Most importantly, we are entrepreneurs, not salespeople.  We work for you.  We know that every nickel counts.  With over 25 years experience, we manage costs and expectations for you and our warehousing partner resulting in a fast, accurate and cost-effective program with incredibly personalized and responsive service to you and your team.



Kelly Bennett, President and COO of Kelly Direct Inc., has been honored with the distinction as a “Top 50 Woman in Business” by the Pacific Coast Business Times.  The announcement, made by Henry Dubroff, Publisher and Editor of the highly regarded publication, recognizes top female executives in three Southern California markets.

“During the eight years that we have been publishing Top 50 Women in Business, we’ve seen a sea change in the way women are viewed in the executive suite, “ says Dubroff.   “A number of our [honorees] are executives who have had unique successes during the past year that make them a natural for our 2014 edition,” he continued.

The publication serves business interests in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties.  The combined population of these counties is 1.5 million and is home to several Fortune 500 firms including Amgen, CKE Restaurants, Dole Food and Patagonia.

Bennett is among seven award recipients in the Consumer Services Division.  Other honorees in this division include Kathleen Cochran, General Manager, Bacara Resort & Spa and Margaret Serjak, President, Verizon California.

An awards ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, April 17 at the Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm.  Tickets may be obtained at

Kelly Direct distributes millions of consumer products and promotional items to consumers and retailers worldwide.  The firm offers over 6 million square feet of warehouse space in Southern California with a focus on merchandise arriving in the Ports of Los Angeles.   Other facilities are available throughout the domestic US, Canada and 15 European countries.  Bennett has over 25 years experience in the fulfillment industry and the firm’s client base is an impressive list of America’s leading consumer products companies, advertising agencies and non-profits.   The firm is WBENC certified meeting supplier diversity requirements.

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