Diagnosis. The absence of metallic lustre and the unicolorous forewing separates rhamnella from other species of the malella group and most other Stigmella species without fascia or spots, except the externally very similar thuringiaca.
Male. Wingspan: 4.5-5.3 mm. Head: frontal tuft ochreous to orange or dark ferruginous; tuft on front often darker than on vertex; scape and collar yellowish white; antenna slightly or distinctly longer than half length of forewing. Thorax concolorous with base of forewing. Forewing: mottled grey-brown without spot or fascia; terminal cilia concolorous or slightly paler. Hindwing: greyish brown. Abdomen fuscous; with short, brownish anal tufts. Female. Wingspan: 4.6-5.6 mm. Antenna slightly or distinctly shorter than half length of forewing. Abdomen without anal tufts. Otherwise similar to male.
Male genitalia. Vinculum variable, anterior margin slightly to distinctly emarginate. Uncus bilobed, each lobe with two posterior projections which may be reduced; lateral margins and projections most strongly sclerotized. Tegumen short, rounded. Gnathos with short transverse bar, long horns, and strong anterior processes. Valva with narrow inner lobe which gradually tapers into pointed distal process; setae on dorsal side of valva with minute lateral hairs along almost entire length. Transtilla with short sublateral processes. Aedeagus half to two-thirds length of genital capsule; vesica with many small spines, fine pectinations near base. Female genitalia. Bursa copulatrix approximately two- third times as long as abdomen. Accessory sac small and tapering anteriorly. Reticulate field small and often indistinct. Vestibulum approximately half as long as corpus bursae. Corpus bursae large and oval but posteriorly asymmetrical; corpus densely covered with pectinations. Apophyses anteriores distinctly shorter than posteriores. Ductus spermathecae not or only few times convoluted; posterior third of vesicle weakly sclerotized and laterally serrate; anterior two-thirds of vesicle well sclerotized.
Host plants: Rhamnus cathartica, R. alpinus and R. saxatilis. Egg: both on upper and underside of leaf, close to a rib. Larva: green. Mine : the first part consists of a number of confluent semicircles around the egg site, then widens into a blotch or 'false blotch'; frass greenish, almost completely filling the first two-thirds of the track; frass scattered in last part of mine but margins devoid of frass. Cocoon: grey-brown.
In Denmark from LFM. Not in Fennoscandia. - In central and southeast Europe. Absent from Great Britain, The Netherlands and Belgium.
Voltinism: in Denmark mines were collected in late September; two generations per year in central Europe.
Description based on Johansson and Nielsen (1990)