A dash of colour graced Summerseat when a butterfly expert released dozens of the under-threat insects into the local woodlands.

Ray Sandiford has taken his concerns about the insects to the top and written a letter to the Prime Minister, calling for support in protecting butterflies and to prevent local authorities from destroying their habitats.

Mr Sandiford, from Bradshaw, Bolton, has asked David Cameron to urge farmers and councils to consider the impact of removing areas of nettles, which are perfect homes for the creatures.

He travelled to Summerseat Nature Reserve last week and released 30 small tortoiseshell butterflies which quickly made themselves at home, both on vegetation and on people’s clothes.

He said: “I have asked local councils to take care when they are clearing fields and scrub areas, but I have had no luck. They still remove nettles which could contain hundreds of butterfly pupae.”

The number of butterflies is generally declining in Britain, but Mr Sandiford is doing his bit to counter this by rearing and raising insects at his home.

The 69-year-old has been keeping butterflies for 12 years after developing a passion for them during his youth.

He is also the former manager of the butterfly house at Queens Park in Bolton, and has researched the causes of the decline of butterflies in gardens across the country and produced a documentary about the life cycle of a Red Admiral butterfly.

The retired upholsterer is concerned about the future of the insects in Britain, but says they will have a safe home in Summerseat.

Mr Sandiford added: “I have been to Summerseat before, and I think there is a good chance of the butterflies thriving here because nobody is going to be cutting the nettles or other plants down.

“These are spring butterflies and they will die in a couple of weeks but, hopefully, they will breed before then.”

n He is holding a party to celebrate his 70th birthday on Sunday at Bradshaw Conservative Club in Bolton and anyone who knows him is invited, which will also help to raise money for a conservation centre. For more information: call 01204 398 548.