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We have had great success with shipping and packaging our worms. This year we have shipped out more than a thousand pounds of worms with only a couple of packages having problems. We did have an issue with worms trying to crawl out of the seams of the bags but we have solved that with new types of bags.
We harvest our worms ahead of time so that they have time to cool before shipping. After the worms have spent some time in air-conditioning and have cooled off we remove all material or substrate from the worms and try and get them “Clean as spaghetti” (Thanks for that saying go to Mr. Jack Brantley) before weighing them. This ensures that our customer is getting a solid pound of worms shipped to them.
The worms can not survive for long though without being in a substrate, aka bedding, so after weighing them we immediately add either peat moss or coconut coir to them and mix them up with it. Mixing them ensures that they are no clumps of worms that would soon run out of oxygen and die. The substrate is a little dryer than the worms would normally prefer, but this has no long term effect upon the worms and helps keep them alive in shipping. If we were to add them back to the bedding or to really wet substrate they would likely perish during shipping. If a worm farmer claims to add his worms back to the original bedding before shipping, be careful as they cannot take heat very well in such a situation.
The weighed out worms and substrate now go into a breathable fabric bag which is heat sealed so that no worms can escape. Boxes are ready and the bottom of the box is filled with a compostable and insulating packing fill. We use a special fiber made from recycled cardboard boxes that we make here on site at Worms Etc. This material has really helped us in preventing the loss of worms during shipping. It keeps the worms cooler during the summer and warmer during the winter. Also it helps retain moisture preventing the worms from drying out and also keeps the shipping box sturdy during transit. This along with the heat sealed bags now makes our shipping very safe for the worms.
Included in the box of worms is an instructional sheet that will help you get started composting. An invoice and our business card also hitch a ride in the box.