They stuck it out in the torture chamber for most of a week. In fact they were very acclimated to even the direct overhead light by that point (though not close-up flashlight).
This was a couple days ago, about ten minutes after I'd triggered the last mini "GRAB A BEBE AND FLEEEE" cycle with some tapping. I expected them to be moving any time now, I'd rotated the tube multiple times, they haaad to be feeling disrupted enough right??? But seeing that these two girls had taken the "RUNAWAY" opportunity to dash out to the buffet and bring home a fruit fly, which they then acrobat tag teamed, made me realize it was time to get drastic.
And by drastic I mean I did the one thing I realize now I should've done from the very beginning (and probably the only thing that actually really mattered), which was taking the AC tube reducer off the end of their tube and connecting them directly to the portal. doh.
Sure enough, 24 hours later I came back from a visit to a friend's to an empty tube!
After a tiny heart attack when I didn't see them in the second tube either, I looked over and spotted three girls waving fruit flies from the buffet pile over their heads and hauling them into the nest so I knew all was well.
(the white stuff over the hydration section is sand, not eggs lol)
With so much time to look at them over the last few days, I'm pretty confident they've got 24 or 25 girls (as of last night) running around. And I, uh ... I can quite easily count at least 50 late instar larvae and pupae in those two pics above
So looks like mama really is gonna call my bluff. Go lady go
I'm sad that I won't see much of her anymore, especially since they've very traumatized by light and vibration right now, so I'll finally let her have some privacy for a while. She's a good girl and a helluva layer, I hope I have her for a long time!
Last couple shots of them out in the open: