Bactrocera jarvisi (Tryon) is a moderate pest fruit fly particularly in northern Australia where mango is its main commercial host. It was largely considered non-responsive to the known male lures. However, male B. jarvisi are attracted to the flowers of Bulbophyllum baileyi, Passiflora ligularis, Passiflora maliformis and Semecarpus australiensis and this paper describes an attempt to determine the attractive compounds in the latter two species through chemical analysis. At about the same time, zingerone was identified as a fruit fly attractant in the flowers of Bulbophyllum patens in Malaysia, and this led the author to speculate that it could be attracting B. jarvisi to the flowers of B. baileyi. Two long-term traps, each with lures containing 2 g of liquefied zingerone and 1 mL maldison EC were established at Speewah, west of Cairns, in November 2001 and retained until April 2007. Over five complete years, 68 897 flies were captured, of which 99.6% were male B. jarvisi. Annual peaks in activity occurred between mid-January and early February, when they averaged 1428.5 ± 695.6 (mean ± standard error) male B. jarvisi/trap/week. Very few B. jarvisi were caught between June and September. Among 12 other species of Bactrocera and Dacus attracted to zingerone were the previously non-lure responsive Bactrocera aglaiae, a new species Bactrocera speewahensis, and the rarely trapped Dacus secamoneae. Four separate trials were conducted over 8- to 19-week periods to compare the numbers and species of Bactrocera and Dacus caught by zingerone, raspberry ketone/cue-lure or methyl eugenol-baited traps. Overall, 27 different species of Bactrocera and Dacus were recorded. The zingerone-baited traps caught 97.7–99.3% male B. jarvisi and no methyl eugenol responsive flies. Significantly more Bactrocera neohumeralis or Bactrocera tryoni were attracted to raspberry ketone/cue-lure than to zingerone (P < 0.001). Zingerone and structurally related compounds should be tested more widely throughout the region.