Adults of this family are easily overlooked, being very small with narrow wings wrapped around the body at rest. When small, the larvae are leaf-miners, forming distinctive brown blotches on leaves. When larger, they usually feed on the leaves externally. Many species have specific host plants. The pupal cases have distinctive longitudinal ridges, leading to members of the family commonly being called ribbed cocoon makers.
Most authors recognize just a single large genus, Bucculatrix, although two Australian species, Cryphioxena notosema and the scribbly gum moth (Ogmograptis scribula) are sometimes placed in this family rather than in Elachistidae.